Category Archives: 00. Snap Out of It


SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7 | Part 8| Part 9 | Part 10

“Love is always bestowed as a gift—
freely, willingly, and without expectation.
We don’t love to be loved, we love to love.”
Leo Buscaglia

No matter what your spiritual orientation (including atheism or agnosticism), Paul Twitchell, in his poetic book, Stranger by the River, in a chapter simply called “Love,” captures the essence of unconditional love:

“The requirements of growth demand that you exert the greatest degree of love for what is perfectly in accord with Soul. Our highest happiness will be best attained through our understanding of, and conscious cooperation with, the divine law.

“It is love that imparts vitality to our minds and hearts and enables it to germinate. The law of love will bring to you all necessity for your spiritual growth and maturity.

“Therefore, if you desire love, try to realize that the only way to get love is by giving love. That the more you give, the more you get; and the only way in which you can give is to fill yourself with it, until you become a magnet of love.”

Look at your life right now:

— Do you have enough joy in your life?

— Do you have enough unconditional love?

— Are you ready to make the changes necessary to get more joy and love into your life?

— Are you ready to do the challenging work of transforming yourself into a different kind of person? One who thinks differently every day?

Well, now you know the secret. Now you know what you need to be doing every day of your life, from this point on, no matter what.

And no matter how hard it is initially.

And as you give without any thought of receiving, as you allow such giving to take over more and more of your life, you will begin to see the greatest secret of all.

The great secret hidden within
all the most holiest and sacred of places
throughout history.

The secret that no one can explain
 or give to another.

The secret that has always been
hiding itself in plain sight
within your secret heart.

You Gain All by Giving All.

The Snap Out of It! Checklist

___ It doesn’t matter what happens to you; what matters is how you respond.

___ Get angry, toxic people out of your life.

___ Find great teachers who teach you how to think, not what to think.

___ Don’t bully anyone, for any reason, especially about politics.

___ TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

___ Debt is slavery. Don’t leave debt on credit cards. Avoid student loans.

___ Your imagination is the tool with which you architect your life.

___ Beware of people who plant negative images about yourself and others.

___ You don’t get what you want in life; you get what you picture.

___ Don’t focus on what to avoid; focus on where you want to go.

___ Take charge of your Self-Talk. Change every negative thought into its positive opposite

___ Every day, imagine vividly, with feeling, your best life.

___ Do your daily imagination exercises.

___ Adults keep emotions in balance with thoughtfulness.

___ Other people’s opinions of you are no longer any of your business.

___ You are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent, with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.

___ Every day you become less of a child and more of an adult.

___ You act more and more like an individual, and less like part of a group.

___ You are resilient. When life knocks you down, you land on your back, because you know that if you can look up, you can get up.

___ Experts have blind spots. Discover life for yourself.

___ Before you try to change others, you first change yourself; and along the way you discover that others will change without your help.

___ Resist the youthful impulse to tear everything down.

___ You understand that to be happy, you must act happy, grow, bounce back from hardships, and lead a good and charitable life worthy of happiness.

___ The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret to freedom is courage.

___ Your measure of success is how much more you laugh every day.

___ Among the lucky, you are the chosen one.

___ You gain all by giving all.


Recommended Videos and Stuff

“Thought control, like birth control, is best undertaken as long as possible before the fact. Many grown-ups will obstinately persist, if only now and then, in composing small strings of sentences in their heads and achieving at least a momentary logic. This probably cannot be prevented, but we have learned how to minimize its consequences by arranging that such grown-ups will be unable to pursue that logic very far.” –Richard Mitchell, Less Than Words Can Say

The Universe of Jordan Peterson

Your first Jordan Peterson interview.

The Professor Against Political Correctness series

Subscribe to Jordan B. Peterson

Subscribe to Jordan B. Peterson Clips

Creating Your Life Videos

Subscribe to Creating Your Life.

Most popular video: The Reticular Activating System, Part 2

Must-See YouTube Videos

Eat The Rich!
The rich should pay for everything! They have all the money! Let’s take it from them! What can go wrong?

Bill Whittle’s What We Believe series. Why do so many people distrust government force, and prefer the freedoms associated with individual actions?

Why Be Happy?
A classic short video that clarifies exactly what Happiness is.

Must Read Books

Much of my thinking is strongly influenced by Richard Mitchell, one of the great unheard of teachers and thinkers about education in the 20th century.

I have created a website to archive his works: The Underground Grammarian.

Many of my thoughts in this book come from these classic works:

Less Than Words Can Say (on language, its use and misuse)

Another great writer and thinker is Thomas Sowell. If you want to be credible at all when discussing race, economics, disparities, and discrimination, you have to know Thomas Sowell’s facts and research.

He puts you in a powerful position to tell Reason from Rubbish.

Here are two fact-based starter books:

Basic Economics

Discriminations and Disparities

Notice that everyone who wants to criticize Sowell never deals directly with his facts and arguments. They always want to label him and attack his character, a strong sign that someone wants to feed you rubbish. Sowell is not a conservative or libertarian. He is all about facts.

Here are more books that I recommend in my A Lifetime of Learning series of books:

Barry, Dave. (1995.) Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys. New York: Random House. (A humorous take on, not men, but guys.)

Browne, Harry. (1999.) Fail-Safe Investing: Lifelong Financial Security in 30 Minutes.  New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Buscaglia, Leo. (1996.) Love: What Life is All About. New York: Ballantine Books.
(One of the great feel-good speakers and writers, and a role model of living love. You may want to first check out this fun and moving YouTube video of his university talk on “The Art of Being Fully Human”:

Chapman, Gary. (2010.) The Five Love Languages: The Secret of Love that Lasts. Chicago: Northfield Publishing. (A simple, modern view of love. Light reading.)

De Angelis, Barbara. (1990.) Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know. New York: Dell Publishing. (Although some of her advice does not apply generally to all men and women, she often provides worthwhile suggestions.)

Friedman, Milton, and Friedman, Rose. (1979, 1990.) Free to Choose: A Personal Statement. Boston: Mariner Books.

Gladwell, Malcolm. (2008). Outliers: The Story of Success. Little Brown and Company: New York, NY

Hazlitt, Henry. (1946, 1988.) Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Hewitt, Hugh. (2014.) The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers, and the Secret of Genuine Success. Nashville: Nelson Books.

Maybury, Richard J. (2010.) Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?. Placerville, CA: Bluestocking Press.

Murray, Charles. (2014.) The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life. New York: Crown Publishing Group.

Paronto, Chris. (2017). The Ranger Way. Hachette Books: New York, NY.

Prager, Dennis. (2008.) Happiness is a Serious Problem. New York: HarperCollins.

Sowell, Thomas. (2008.) Economic Facts and Fallacies. New York: Basic Books.

Tice, Lou. (1995). Smart talk for achieving your potential: 5 steps to get you from here to there. Seattle: Pacific Institute Publishing.

Twitchell, Paul. (1970, 1989.) Stranger by the River. Third ed. Minneapolis: ECKANKAR.

Wilson, Timothy. (2004). Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious. Harvard University Press: Cambridge.

Mark Andre Alexander is a curmudgeon with a heart. He has college degrees, has worked in Silicon Valley, composes music, performs on piano and keyboard, and likes to make people laugh.

Lucky for him, he is married to a woman who improves him just by being present.

Check out his books on

Books in the series A Lifetime of Learning
Creating Your Life: A Lifetime of Learning Book 1
Money and Wealth: A Lifetime of Learning Book 2
Sex and Romance: A Lifetime of Learning Book 3
Mozart and Great Music: A Lifetime of Learning Book 4

Other books
Handbook for Advanced Souls: Eternal Reminders for the Present Moment
Snap Out of It!: The Millennial Guide to Taking Back Your Sucky Life

Go to MarkAndreAlexander.Com.

Subscribe to the Creating Your Life YouTube channel.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7 | Part 8| Part 9 | Part 10

The Truth about Happiness

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7 | Part 8| Part 9 | Part 10

“It’s your right to know joy.”
Leo Buscaglia

Much of this post is from my book Sex and Romance.

If the government were to offer you a free daily Happy Pill, would you take it?

A pill that would
remove all your worries,
relieve all your pain,
eliminate any possible suffering?

Would you take it?

And would you call yourself a happy person while on that pill?

If you are like most healthy people, you have an instinctive reaction against the idea of a Happy Pill.


Is it because you feel:

— Like you’re being controlled?

— That you’re losing something valuable and essential?

— That you’re somehow no longer a real human being if you take it?

— That your life would be more that of an animal or plant than a human being?

Many people look at all the pain and suffering in the world, and they want it to stop. They want everyone to be happy. And they believe everyone should be happy; otherwise, life is not fair.

Therefore, the Happy Pill would be a good thing, right?

No more pain, no more suffering.

The idea of a Happy Pill assumes something significant:

— That pain and suffering have no purpose, no value.

— That pain and suffering have nothing to contribute to a happy life.

— That a world without pain and suffering would be a better world.

Think about such a Happy-Pill world:

No one would find anything painful.

No one would know they made a mistake.

No one would know when they took a false step.

No one would feel the need to empathize with the pain of others, since no one would be in pain.

No one would need to grow or change.

No one would need to feel compassion for anyone else.

Everyone would be equal. Everyone would feel the same happiness.

Everyone would be in their
own little happy world
with other people all equally
in their own little happy worlds.

And we all know how important it is for all people to be equal, right?

Does this Happy Pill world sound like a real life to you?

Is this really the kind of world you want to live in?

What is Happiness?

Figuring out the definition of something often means comparing it to, and contrasting it with, other things to see how it is different.

Is happiness the same thing as contentment or satisfaction or pleasure?

Or are they all different things?

Let’s compare and contrast each of these to happiness:

Can you be satisfied and not be happy?

Can you be content and not be happy?

Can you experience pleasure and still not be happy?

Another way to explore the question of happiness is to ask…

Can someone be struggling or suffering hardships,
yet still be happy?

The answer to these four questions should be “yes” for anyone who thinks them through.

Yes, you can be satisfied but not happy.

You have heard of people who have made all the money they need, but end up killing themselves.

Yes, you can be content but not happy.

Like being satisfied, being content is a small state of consciousness.

You’ve just made a good bargain, perhaps buying something valuable for a price far below what it is worth. You are content.

But does that feel like happiness?

Doesn’t happiness feel like it should be something larger?

Yes, you can experience pleasure and not be happy.

You just ate a good meal, heard good music, or experienced great sex.

Does that mean you are happy?

Does the pleasure stay or go away over time?

Isn’t there something about happiness that is more… permanent?

Yes, you can struggle and suffer hardships and still be happy.

Talk to parents who have successfully raised children who have gone on to successfully raise their own children.

They may have suffered and experienced loss, yet they see that they have had a complete life. Despite the struggles, they are happy.


Exactly what is happiness? That is, true happiness, not anyone’s relative, momentary personal opinion of happiness?

Is it possible to define this kind of happiness?

In his book, Happiness is a Serious Problem, Dennis Prager believes that happiness cannot be defined for everyone. However, he does think that achieving happiness in its full form requires wisdom, and the hard work and self-discipline to put that wisdom into practice.

You can get an idea where he aims the reader by some of his chapter titles:

“Happiness is a Moral Obligation”

“Unhappiness is Easy—Happiness Takes Work”

“Comparing Ourselves with Others”

“Equating Happiness with Success”

“Equating Happiness with Fun”

“Seeing Yourself as a Victim”

“Develop a Perspective: Cultivate a Philosophy of Life”

“Life is Tragic”

“Find the Positive”

“Accept Tension”

“Everything has a Price—Know What It Is”

“Seek to Do Good”

“Find and Make Friends”

The chapter on friendship is particularly interesting, with subtitles like “Family,” “Marriage,” “Finding Friends,” and “Keeping Friends.”

Here’s a great video that will give you a point of view on Happiness that few talk about: (Bypass the YouTube warning. It’s not needed.)

A key message in this video: You use deodorant and brush your teeth so that you don’t inflict your bad body odor on other people. So why would you want to inflict your bad moods on other people? (This is what children do.)

There is a wonderful little book by Charles Murray: The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life.

This book is a must for young people looking to make their way into the working world.

Here’s a glimpse of the kind of profound, solid advice he gives to the youth. Although he offers this advice in a chapter other than that on Happiness, it applies to anyone seeking happiness:

“You probably possess two of the most important personal qualities for success—high cognitive ability and good interpersonal skills. But it is unlikely that you have already developed another important trait: resilience.”

The author provides the dictionary definition of resilience as the ability of a material to return to its original shape after being stretched or deformed in some way.

Young people who have not exercised their capacity to be resilient are more like crystal glasses. But they have the potential to exercise resilience and learn to bounce back like a Super Ball.

He continues:

“… if you’ve grown up in a loving and untroubled environment, that potential is unrealized. Here’s the problem: You can be sure that your resilience will be tested sooner or later. When it happens, you don’t want to shatter into glittering shards. If my description fits you, now is the time, when you’re still single and more or less without responsibilities, to start exercising your elastic limit.”

Such character traits as resilience, tenacity, focus, independence, self-reliance, and many more need exercise to develop.

Good parents, teachers, and friends
actively help you build these character traits.

Each of these character traits has a role to play in a life that can truly be called happy.

In the section entitled “On the Pursuit of Happiness,” the author provides some advice that hits true.

He develops six ideas. Check out his book to appreciate how he eloquently develops each idea:

1) Show up.

2) Take the clichés about fame and fortune seriously.

3) Take religion seriously, especially if you’ve been socialized not to. (The author describes himself as agnostic.)

4) Take the clichés about marriage seriously.

5) Be open to a startup marriage instead of a merger marriage.

6) Watch Groundhog Day repeatedly.

If you have never seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, put it at the top of your movie list and watch it as soon as you finish this book.

Hugh Hewitt, who teaches constitutional law, frames his book The Happiest Life around gifts and givers. For him, generosity is the precondition for happiness.

He first works his way through “The Seven Gifts”: Encouragement, Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy, Good Humor, Graciousness, and Gratitude.

Of these seven gifts, he says:

“Everyone is eligible to be a giver of these gifts. Everyone. You don’t need wealth. You don’t have to be twenty-one. You don’t even have to be literate.”

And if you’re not giving these away, you are being a miser.

Then he follows with the seven kinds of givers we can be:

The Spouse, The Parent, Family Members, Friends,
The Coworker, Teachers, and The Church.

And to be a giver, you not only need to have generosity, but also courage. He starts the introduction of the book with a quote from the ancient Greek General, Thucydides:

The secret of happiness is freedom,
and the secret of freedom is courage.

Hewitt then writes:

“You have to have courage to give away what you hold dearest, again and again and again. Every day. Remarkably, self-sacrifice and generosity produce the greatest, most enduring happiness.”

Hewitt’s book is warm and wise, and full of illustrative stories to provide a sharp and insightful definition of the gifts.

For example, to bring home what empathy actually is (as opposed to sympathy), he shares a conversation he had with a rabbi.

Sympathy is sharing suffering at a distance.
Empathy is sharing suffering up close.

The rabbi said simply, “Show up and shut up.”

You don’t have to tell the suffering person that you know what they’re going through. You don’t know.

You don’t have to tell them it will be all right. You don’t have to share your own experience with suffering.

As Hewitt says, “The gift of quiet, advice-free companionship in the midst of suffering is a gift of the highest order.”

He makes the point that empathy is a costly gift because it means “reliving past sorrows and entering into new ones.”


Why so much talk of happiness?

Simple: Many seek sex and romance, not as ends in themselves, but as means to happiness. And often, thinking sex and romance are central to happiness, we discover they are only the beginning.

Although happiness is composed of many parts, knowing those parts and seeking a balance among them may help you move closer to happiness.

And that brings us to the Balance Wheel.

Most balance wheels have from eight to twelve spokes. The idea is that the center of the wheel represents 0 and the outer edge represents 10. On this scale, 0 equals unfulfilled and 10 equals completely fulfilled.

Once you fill out your wheel and connect the spokes, you find how well it rolls, how bumpy it is, and where you may need to focus your efforts.

Here’s an example of a balance wheel:

This wheel obviously runs rough, given the big chink in Love and Family. By working on these two, the wheel acquires some balance for a person seeking happiness.

Here’s another way to frame the wheel:

This wheel shows how there may be a necessary trade-off.

If you are satisfied with your Love & Family, as well as with your level of Community Service, you may find that your choices affect how much Leisure Time and Hobbies you can prioritize. Perhaps Community Service qualifies as what you do with your Leisure Time.

In any event, try constructing your balance wheel, and select the topics that are a high priority in your life. See if the gaps in the wheel make sense, and whether you should shift some of your creative energy into developing them.

Remember, you can bring some greater balance to your life and move towards creating more the life you want.

But you have to know where to focus your energy and how to properly set goals.

And you need to patiently work through your blind spots, and any subconscious pictures that hold you back.

Then you have a shot at experiencing true joy in your life.

The Key to Happiness

Here is my personal balance wheel as of October 2018:

As you can see, all are fairly balanced, except for my job and career, which is in transition. My job role had shifted after a merger in the Silicon Valley company, where I worked. I decided to leave that job and look for something I can love.

What is the best thing for me to do?

Focus on my job and career, and have contingency plans in place to manage every possible transition, either in another company or as a consultant.

However, I have little to complain about. Since much of my life in other areas is doing so well, I am in a strong position to manage the gap in my wheel.

Why are they doing so well? Notice what I prioritize, how many of the spokes on the wheel have to do with love and service and spiritual practices and friends.

The secret, for me, has to do with working hard,
every day, on giving unconditional love.

Let’s end with some humor.

“An archeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets the more interested he is in her.” Agatha Christie

“If you love ’em in the morning with their eyes full of crust; if you love ’em at night with their hair full of rollers, chances are, you’re in love.” Miles Davis

“Marriage is a lot like the army, everyone complains, but you’d be surprised at the large number that re-enlist.” James Garner

“My wife was afraid of the dark. Then, she saw me naked and now she’s afraid of the light.” Rodney Dangerfield

“My friends tell me I have an intimacy problem. But they don’t really know me.” Garry Shandling

“Gravitation can’t be held responsible for people falling in love.” Albert Einstein

“What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.” Pearl Bailey

“I kissed my first girl and smoked my first cigarette on the same day. I haven’t had time for tobacco since.” Arturo Toscanini

“Love is sharing your popcorn.” Charles Schultz

And then finally, this:

A professor decided to have some fun with students in a computer science class. He put the men on one side of the room and the women on the other. He had them do a ten-minute activity to determine what gender a computer should be called, male or female.

The men voted that computers should be referred to in the feminine gender and they gave these four reasons:

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic.
  2. When computers speak to each other, they speak in code language that only they and experts can understand.
  3. Every mistake you make is stored on their hard drive for later retrieval.
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you end up spending half of your paycheck accessorizing it.

Women voted that computers must be in the masculine gender for these reasons.

  1. To get their attention, you have to turn them on.
  2. They have a lot of data but still can’t think for themselves.
  3. They’re supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem.
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

One more post to come.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7 | Part 8| Part 9 | Part 10

Colonialism and Home Rule

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7 | Part 8 |Part 9

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
Richard Feynman

Do you trust the experts?

In Australia a 600-km marathon is held every year between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne.

Back in the 1980s, a 61-year-old man named Cliff Young showed up to run in the race. All the world-class runners thought he was some homeless man who showed up in the wrong place.


Because Cliff arrived wearing overalls and galoshes. And he was obviously an old man. When he told them he was there for the marathon, the professional runners asked if he had ever run in a marathon before.

“No,” replied Cliff.

“How have you been training?” they asked.

“I have cattle on my farm. I have no horses, so I run around to move them along.”

The runners laughed.

You see, every professional marathoner knew with certainty that it took about seven days to run this race, and that in order to compete, you would need to run 18 hours and sleep six hours. That’s what the experts all said.

Cliff Young was clearly not up to their standards.

When the marathon started, the pros left Cliff behind in his galoshes. (Later he would run with more appropriate shoes.) He had a leisurely shuffling style of running that targeted him as an amateur.

Cliff had no training. He did not know what the world-class runners knew.

You probably guessed that Cliff won the race, but that is not what is astonishing.

Cliff Young cut nearly two days off
the record time.


Because of his lack of training,
he didn’t “know” that you had to sleep six hours.

Cliff got up three hours early and just kept on shuffling along in his galoshes while the pro runners slept. Cliff said he visualized rounding up sheep in a storm. He finished the race in just five days.

He beat everybody. He was a sensation in Australia.

Now world-class runners “know” it’s possible to run with much less sleep. They know that they can conserve energy by adopting an easy shuffling jog. Now they have adapted to a new way of approaching long marathons.

We are like the pro runners. We act, not always according to the “real truth” but according to some conventional truth given to us by well-meaning or not-so-well-meaning “experts.”

The experts have blind spots.
And so do you.

The Nocebo Effect

You’ve heard of the Placebo Effect, right? That effect where doctors give a person a drug to help with an ailment, but what the doctors actually give is an inactive sugar pill?

And then the patient feels better as if the pill were the real thing.

Somehow the mind and body reacts
to the suggestion of an authority.

People rarely hear about it, but there is also something called the Nocebo Effect, coined in the early 1960s. Doctors can suggest something negative and the mind and body responds.

In the 1970s, doctors diagnosed a man with end-stage liver cancer. They gave him a few months to live. He died and an autopsy revealed a tiny tumor that had not spread. The doctors’ planted the image of death, and apparently the man died of that expectation.

In a 2007 study, a suicidal man took pills believing he was taking an overdose of antidepressants. He nearly died until the researchers gave him intravenous fluids and explained that he had been given placebos. The symptoms rapidly disappeared.

In a 2009 study, researchers gave placebos to patients who were told they were being given drugs with bad side effects. Participants experienced burning sensations, sleepiness, fatigue, vomiting, weakness, taste disturbances, tinnitus, and upper-respiratory-tract infections. The nocebo complaints were not random, but were specific to the type of drug they believed they were taking.

All of these examples point to one thing:

Self-fulfilling prophecies are real.

When other people give you negative pictures, or when you give them to yourself, the mind and body responds. They deliver the negative results you expect.

Beware of toxic people,
toxic doctors, and toxic thinking.

So why all this talk warning about experts?

It jumps around like water bouncing on a hot frying pan, but it comes together, so please be patient.

Home Rule points to someone who has the experience, knowledge, and mental skills to govern themselves.

Colonialism points to someone who thinks they know how others should be governed. Often, they do not even know how to govern themselves, yet they think they know what other people should be required to do.

Historically, we know that colonialism is a bad thing: A culture or nation that goes and conquers another culture or nation, destroys that culture and replaces it with its own.

The conquering culture believes its culture is better than other cultures, and so it justifies its willingness to use force. (That’s what distinguishes governments from other groups—governments use force.)

What makes colonialism such a danger is when a people assume that they know what is best for others and force it upon them.

Throughout the world today, we have people who decry colonialism, and yet, at the same time, practice it in ways often unrecognized. They believe in experts. They believe in authorities.


They lack Home Rule,
while still practice Colonialism.

Let me explain.

Home Rule is the simple ability to tell the difference between Reason and Rubbish. To tell when a statement is worthless, or a term without meaning, or a proposition absurd.

You don’t have to run to someone else for confirmation. Your ability to reason is clear and strong enough that you can recognize and explain why something is reasonable or idiotic.

It is what distinguishes children from adults, and thoughtless people (emotionally driven) from thoughtful people.

You may be already thinking, Yeah, but how many people have that ability?

Exactly. And how many of those people are out protesting and Colonizing for more government regulations to force “society” to be some ideal, when they have no Home Rule?

Your first duty, before assuming you know what kind of colonizing to engage in, is to develop home rule, the ability to think and reason. To be able to tell what is true and not true.

That is quite a challenge.

In college, I used to read two newspapers: The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle.

Once I read a long political article in the Times. Then while reading the Chronicle, I noticed an article that was the same as the Times article, but with a different headline. The only difference was that many paragraphs in the original had been removed.

And that changed everything. The entire meaning was something else. Just by deleting paragraphs without changing anything else.

In other words, the Chronicle used the same source as the Times, but used editorial discretion to trim it down and change it into a different message.

They didn’t lie, as such, because what they printed was exactly the same. But by deleting paragraphs of context, they were able to spin the meaning into a different direction.

News sources do this all the time.

You can tell this if you actually watched the Jordan Peterson video all the way through in Chapter 5. If that was your first experience with Peterson, you may have heard things about him which were not true.

Let me give you another example, one from after the 2016 presidential election.

You may have heard a story or seen a video about President Donald Trump making fun of a disabled reporter in a wheelchair. The President can be seen in the video awkwardly waving his arms and putting on a goofy face that, on the surface, could be him making fun of a disabled person.

That’s how it was reported.

But those reports left out several examples where the President made the exact same movements and facial expressions with other non-disabled reporters he was making fun of.

In other words, what he did had nothing to do with the reporter’s disability. But the news tried to give people that picture.

That dishonest news story launched the entire #WalkAway campaign.

See the video here:

Over the years, I learned how to identify honest reporters and opinion writers.

  • I’d read the actual controversial Supreme Court Opinion and then read or watched what various writers or media people say about it. Who has read what it really says, and who reports it that way? And who changes what was written?
  • I’d watch an actual speech in its entirety, then read or watch what various writers or media people say about it. Who has heard what the speaker really said and reports it that way? And who take parts of the speech out of context?

Home Rule means the ability to think for yourself, to examine sources yourself, to be suspicious of most sources, most authorities, most experts.

Just like my favorite professor in college who said, “Don’t read secondary sources. You can understand Jane Austen, Plato, Aristotle, and Samuel Johnson yourself.”

That’s how you build mental muscles.

Beware of people who want you to agree with the herd, and are suspicious when you examine sources yourself and ask them to do the same.

One last thing:

Resist the youthful impulse
to tear everything down.

Whew! Time for laughter.

A  fellow’s business had gone bust and he was in serious financial trouble. He was so desperate that he decided to ask God for help. He began to pray.

“God, please help me. I’ve lost my business and if I don’t get some money, I’m going to lose my house as well. Please let me win the lotto.”

Lotto night came and somebody else won. Again the fellow prayed.

“God, please let me win the lotto! I’ve lost my business, my house and I’m going to lose my car as well.”

Lotto night came and he still had no luck. Once again he prayed.

“My God, why have you forsaken me? I’ve lost my business, my house and my car. My children are starving. I don’t often ask you for help and I have always been a good servant to you. Please just let me win the lotto this one time so I can get my life back in order.”

Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light as the heavens opened and the fellow was confronted by the booming voice of God.

“Hey, buddy, at least meet me halfway on this. Buy a lotto ticket.”

Heh heh. A twist on the classic flood joke and God sending rescuers.

A reporter asked a Silicon Valley CEO, “What is the secret of your success?”

She replied, “Two words.”

“And what are those words?”

Right decisions.”

And how do you make right decisions?”

One word.”

And, what is that?”


And how do you get Experience?”

Two words.”

And those are?”

Wrong decisions.”

You can build your own mental muscles. You can read challenging texts, explore challenging ideas, listen reasonably to more than one side of a debate.

You can become your own expert by doing the work and examining original sources.

If you are looking for freedom, you need a developed mind that can tell Reason from Rubbish.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

Individuals and Groups

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7

“Becoming a part of a movement
doesn’t help anybody think clearly.”
Sam Harris

“I think, tribalism is a mental prison…
and pride of identity coupled with arrogance is one
of the leading factors that limit one’s ability to abandon it.”
Duop Chak Wuol

Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a t-shirt!

Let’s all be different—
in the same way!

Sounds good, right? Or is there something just a little creepy about it?

The Land of We All

This may seem obvious, but it needs to be stated.

Only an individual person can think.

Not committees. Not corporations. Not any kind of group. Only individual persons.

Many individuals may hold the same thought. Or many variations of the same thought.

But thinking is individual.

Mobs don’t think. They feel. They feel strongly. They feel so strongly that individuals in a mob will engage in emotionally charged and destructive behavior that they would never engage in as individuals. Because the emotions can carry you away from your thoughts.

Sad to say, there are people, influencers, who strive to have you give up your individuality, your willingness to think as an individual, in favor of the mob. Even as they encourage you to be an individual.

Another important distinction is that, among human activity, some things can only be accomplished by individuals, and other things can only be accomplished by groups.

They do not overlap.

Only an individual can play a violin.

Only a group can invade Normandy.

And even though the latter was big and made the news, while the former is small and often unremarked, what individuals do, what they create, is much more remarkable.

Individuals try and fail and try again. Individuals are the true innovators. Not committees.

“Learn to fail with pride—and do so
fast and cleanly. Maximize trial and error—
by mastering the error part.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The great inventor, Thomas Edison, ended his life with 2,332 patents worldwide. You probably know that he invented the incandescent light bulb. (Yes, he did. Others improved upon it, but he did invent it.)

You may have forgotten some of his other inventions:

— The phonograph record

— The motion picture camera

— The carbon microphone, used in telephones until 1980

— A system for electric power distribution

— The fluoroscope

When asked about his failures in inventing a working light bulb, Edison reportedly answered, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that did not work.”

In other words, his failures were a form of success.

So how did Edison do it? How did he become one of the most prolific inventors in history? In a word, the willingness to think as an individual despite what others said was impossible. He had the original thinker’s attitude.

Here are some of Thomas Edison’s critical quotes:

Genius is one percent inspiration,
ninety-nine percent perspiration.

If we did all the things we are capable of doing,
we would literally astound ourselves.

Opportunity is missed by most people because
it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize
how close they were to success when they gave up.

I find out what the world needs.
Then, I go ahead and invent it.

Hell, there are no rules here—
we’re trying to accomplish something.

Edison had a rare quality—resilience.

Substances like rubber balls have resilience, the ability to spring back into its original shape.

Humans who are resilient have a strong capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, or in Edison’s case, from failures.

Edison simply did not recognize failure. And this is how the innovators at my Silicon Valley company thought. Fail faster means recognizing that when you are innovating, creating something new that’s never been done before, it is a natural fact that you have to move through a number of “failures” to get to success.

Failures are the norm for successful people.

They do not see failures as stumbling blocks.
They see failures as stepping stones.

Unfortunately, groups of people are rarely creative. They often look at creative individuals, people who do not fit into their group, and dismiss their innovative ideas. Here are three classic examples:

Of Edison’s light bulb, the British Parliamentary Committee in 1878 stated publicly, “… good enough for our transatlantic friends… but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.”

Of the newly invented automobile, the Literary Digest stated in 1899, “The ordinary ‘horseless carriage’ is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.”

Of the Microchip, an IBM engineer, Advanced Computing Systems Division in 1968 said, “But what… is it good for?”

Apple computer happened to see what it was good for and started the personal computer revolution, which IBM missed out on.

Actor/Director Peter Ustinov once said, “If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.”

Even though teams of people had to make these things happen, the innovation was the individual thinking of one creative mind.

Groups may make things happen. But individuals are the driving force behind what groups do.

Another odd thing to think about: Many people often claim that a group needs to be something or think something.

Take this statement: We must teach children to think.

It seems like an obvious statement of fact. But is it? Especially if we already agree that a group can’t think.

If I am asked to teach children to think, how would I go about it? In the Land of We All, I have a sense that to try to teach children to think, I will fail.

If thinking is an individual activity, how can I know how to teach a group to think? Can I mistakenly think I am teaching children to think if I am only working with them as a group and not as individual persons?

I suspect that I can only teach a child to think. One on one. Singularly.

And what if my goal is to ensure compliant children who go along with the herd and don’t trouble us with thinking as individuals? I will make sure they are put into large classrooms and charge the teacher with teaching them as a group how to think. Knowing that at the end of the day, teaching how to think will devolve into teaching how to feel.

Because that’s what groups do.

Let’s all be different—
in the same way!

A mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and a civil engineer are sitting in a bar around drinking their beers.

The mechanical engineer, who has been quiet and deep in thought, says, “You know, God must have been a mechanical engineer. The body is a mechanical marvel with its own brand of levers and pulleys and vises. It’s incredible what mechanical things it can do that we can’t duplicate.”

The electrical engineer shakes his head and says, “No, God was clearly an electrical engineer. Look at the central nervous system, the central cortex, the brain, this fabulous communications system. It is an electrical marvel. God was definitely an electrical engineer.”

The civil engineer laughs and responds, “You are both wrong. God was undoubtedly a civil engineer. I mean, who else would put a waste disposal system through a popular recreation area?”

It is your duty to become an individual before deciding which groups you need to join.

And this is one of the hardest things to become. Willing to acquire the abilities to teach yourself, think for yourself, restrain your feelings, exercise thought over emotions.


Because the easiest way for others to control you is through powerful emotions.

Let’s all be different—
in the same way!

Is there anyone around you who touts individuality but squashes it when it actually occurs?

Do you know people who preach tolerance while trying to shut down others?

If you want to risk putting this to the test, if you want to find out who your real friends are, the ones who will tolerate differences of opinion and listen to you, pick an unpopular opinion, especially a political opinion. Then ask them a question like:

Is it possible that [insert controversial person’s name here] could be right about that?

This is probably the quickest way to see if the people you hang out with are as tolerant as they say.

There is something called The Mirror of Life. Psychologists call this projection. What you hate in others is something you have in yourself.

How many people do you know who rail against racism, and then assume people of a certain race cannot do it on their own, that they can only get ahead with government help?

Think about that.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7

Children, Adults, and Rites of Passage

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6| Part 7

“[S]afe spaces are designed
to turn emotions into medical conditions.”
Greg Gutfeld

Let’s talk about children. Let’s talk about the characteristics children have that we expect to change once they become adults.

This is important, because, as you will see, many children are now running around in adult bodies. Especially in male bodies. And this is not healthy.

I know these are overly simplified but bear with me. You’ll get the point. The idea is: How can we tell when a child has transitioned into an adult? Or more precisely: How can we tell when childish behaviors have shifted into adult behaviors?

Are Emotionally Reactive Are Thoughtfully Restrained
Instantly Judge Consider Cause and Effect
See Everything as Black and White Recognize Middle Grounds
Experience Adversity as Crushing Are Resilient; Bounces Back
Avoid Responsibility Value Accountability
React Poorly to Frustration Realize Frustration Is Natural
Inflict Negative Emotions on Others Are Able to Maintain a Calm Exterior
Want Everything Now Practice the Virtue
of Delayed Gratification
Dwell in Extremes Practice the Virtue of Moderation
See Others as Objects in Their Way See Others as Equal Souls
Are Narcissistic Are Able to Serve Others
Resort to Violence,
Refusing to Change
Exercise Reason and
Is Willing to Change
Want Others and the World
to Change for Them
Recognize that Others Are Free to Be Themselves and Hold Contrary Opinions
See Others Who Disagree as
Bad People Who Must Go Away
Tolerate a Pluralistic Diversity
of Views and Lifestyles
Are Convinced that Mere Opinion
Is the Truth
Know the Differences Among Knowledge, Informed Opinion, and Mere Opinion

For that last bit, let me sketch a part of it for you.

Knowledge typically refers to something that you know first-hand from direct experience. “I saw the accident and the driver in the Mini ran that red light.”

Informed Opinion typically refers to second-hand information that has some means of verification. “Three different sources who have a history of being correct have told me the driver in the Mini ran that red light.”

Mere Opinion refers to simple beliefs based on emotional reactions, or on authority figures who have a history of being wrong and not acknowledging it. “I hate Mini drivers, so I know the driver of that Mini is at fault.”

By the way, not all knowledge can be independently verified. For example, I could have a dream last night in which I was flying over the city. No one can independently verify that dream. But I still know it happened.

The question always comes down to: How objective can I be about my own experiences? And how do I know that I really know? These are the questions that arise, and often get mangled, in philosophy classes.

We may not be able to address those questions directly, but we can at least recognize that there is a difference between child behavior and adult behavior.

That children dwell in the realm of mere opinion, while adults strive for informed opinion and knowledge.

And that we need to be aware of how others may influence our picture of ourselves.

The Pygmalion Effect

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Walt Disney

You may not know the story of Pygmalion.

Pygmalion was a gifted sculptor from Cyprus who one day found a large, flawless piece of ivory. He sculpted a beautiful woman and found it so lovely he became obsessed with the statue, thinking it his ideal woman.

He went to the temple of Aphrodite to plead for a wife who would be as perfect as his statue. When Aphrodite visited the studio of the sculptor while he was away, she was flattered to find that the image was of herself.

Aphrodite brought the statue to life, and when Pygmalion returned to his home, he found his ideal had come alive.

In 1968 a study was done by two researchers, Rosenthal and Jacobson that demonstrated what they called the “Pygmalion Effect.”

They told teachers that the researchers would test the intelligence of children aged six to twelve years, all drawn from the same school. They then randomly assigned children to two groups.

Their teachers were told that the children in one group were “high achievers” even though they were randomly chosen. At the end of the school year, these children showed significant test gains, despite the random allocation to a group.

In short, the researchers discovered that the teachers’ expectations manifested in the children.

We can uncritically accept, subconsciously,
pictures other people hold of us.

The subconscious repository stores our picture of ourselves. When we are young, that picture is influenced and reinforced by how other people picture us. Their pictures of us affect how they talk and behave around us.

This leads to a couple of interesting ideas:

The Pygmalion Effect can work both ways.

First, you hold pictures of other people. Consider being very careful about the negative thoughts you hold of others, especially what you are sure is true about others.

Not only do you create blind spots about others in yourself that screen out anything that does not match your stored truths about them, you may also actually transfer your negative images to them in a way that they may adopt.

Second, be very careful about accepting as “true” any negative thoughts from others about you. Watch your own thoughts to screen out negative characterizations you may have accepted from others that may be holding you back, creating a negative, limiting picture of yourself.

Other people’s opinions of you
are no longer any of your business.

We often carry multiple pictures of ourselves based on our current associations. In other words, different people may have given you different pictures of yourself, which can be triggered when you are with them. Or the pictures can be triggered in a situation similar to one you remember.

For example: Do you find that when you visit your parents, you become their child again, feeling how their image of you puts you in a box of behaviors that reinforce their picture of you?

Do you find that you are a different person—more confident, more capable, more articulate, wittier—around one group of people, and much less confident and capable and articulate and witty around another?

Do you find that when you return to old friends you haven’t seen in years you fall into old picture-patterns that you had forgotten about?

Do you recall being known as a klutz or awkward in high school, and then after many years being a non-klutz away from those acquaintances, when you go back to them, you are suddenly that klutz again?

Have you ever been with someone, perhaps a spouse who seems to undergo a personality change when around his or her parents or old friends?

Have you noticed how you change when you are with your church group, your drinking-poker buddies or shopping friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, your political group, your military pals?

Few of us maintain a single, consistent picture of ourselves as we move from peer group to peer group, or person to person.

However, over time, you can develop a strong, consistent self-image that does not change significantly when your environment changes.

Rites of Passage

“Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent
and independent with a tremendous spirit of
adventure and a love of play.”
Henri Matisse

Marriage is a fascinating rite of passage.

Think about it. Before getting married, two people walk around thinking of themselves as single, being single, acting single. Then they go before a powerful authority who declares, “Now you are married; go out and live it” and prang! They go out and live it.

They think of themselves as married, being married, acting married.

What really changes? Nothing but the picture they hold of themselves. The picture changes. Nothing else happens.

Often, people improve with the change in picture. Their hearts open wide, they become more giving, and they step into the best picture of themselves. Friends and acquaintances begin to see the newly married, no longer as mere separate individuals, but as a couple who embody unconditional love.

But marriage can go the other direction. Sometimes people go through profound personality changes when they marry. A whole new picture takes hold, because they “know” that this is how a “married person” is supposed to act.

Men who seemed sweet and reasonable, who shared household burdens, suddenly demand that their new “wife” do all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry.

Women suddenly expect their new “husband” to take on the natural role of handyman and protector.

Sometimes the change is more drastic and even violent.

What accounts for this change?

I’ve talked about how powerful our picture of the truth can affect our perception of Reality and the “Truth.”

How the Subconscious Repository and Adaptive Unconscious works in setting and maintaining the picture of ourselves that we hold.

How the Pygmalion Effect works to give other people pictures of themselves, especially by people perceived as authorities.

A priest or public official is seen as a powerful authority to two people getting married. So powerful in fact that with a single declarative sentence, that authority can transform the deep-seated image two people have of themselves, to the point of an immediate personality change.

Think about that.

This is the primary function of Rites of Passage.

Rites of passage initiate the activation of a new picture a person holds of themselves. Before the rite of passage you are one kind of person. After the rite of passage you are another.

I grew up a math and science guy. On my SATs I scored high in Math and lower on Verbal.

In college I started out majoring in computer programming. After a couple years, I purchased a new Apple II+ computer, just when the industry was starting.

Then new personal computer magazines started appearing, and I saw one where the editors asked for submissions. I thought, What do I have to lose?

I wrote up a review of a computer security system. The editor wrote back and said, “We love your writing style. Why don’t you expand this review into an article that compares security systems?”


My picture of myself changed dramatically with that paragraph. Someone with authority said I was a writer. A good writer.

I wrote that article, they published it, and they paid me $200. I submitted my next article to a truck magazine about my friend’s custom truck. They bought it!

Now I was a freelance writer.

I changed my major and got a bachelor’s degree in English.

Then when I took my Graduate Record Exam, guess what? The score in Math was lower than on the Verbal side. They reversed.

Early on, I saw myself as a math and science guy. Then I switched to a language and literature guy. I went on to work in Silicon Valley making a great income as a writer, and then developing managers in a tech company.

All because one authority said something powerfully good about me, which changed my picture.

Boy or girl, man or woman, or however you want to identify yourself, becoming an adult is crucial to a responsible, happy life. If you wear your emotions on your sleeve all the time, if you believe that your emotional response should dictate how others behave, you are being a child.

Time to grow up and stop blaming others for how you feel.

Adults keep emotions in balance
with thoughtfulness.

And becoming a thoughtful person is your duty.

A Note about the War Against Boys

In the United States, a disturbing trend is happening in the public schools. Competition and risk are frowned upon, while the value of feelings are elevated. Games like dodge ball and active recess activities are being eliminated.

Natural boy-based behaviors are labeled “aggressive” and anything aggressive is deemed bad by definition.

Culturally, there appears to be a concerted effort to stigmatize all playful use of guns. Zero-tolerance policies punish boys for pretending to have guns.

Even drawing the picture of a gun or forming one with your hand can result in suspension or expulsion.

Here are more stories from a few years ago:

A 10-year-old boy in Pennsylvania was suspended for using an imaginary bow and arrow.

An 8-year-old Arizona boy was threatened with expulsion because of his drawings of ninjas and Star Wars characters, and his interest in zombies.

A 7-year-old boy in Maryland was suspended for chomping a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.

A 6-year-old boy in Colorado was charged with “sexual harassment” for kissing a girl.

(Search the Internet for such stories. They are legion.)

Increasingly, boys are seen as defective girls.

When male consciousness is denigrated in full, the results can be catastrophic. That male energy will come out, in unexpected and inappropriate ways.

Here’s an excerpt from Creating Your Life about how boys and girls go through a rite of passage into becoming men and women:

Has it ever occurred to you that the reason that there are so many boys in men’s bodies is because these boys never went through a rite of passage to change their picture?

Girls have a natural biological event that ushers them into womanhood.

What do boys have?

They used to have fathers who took them hunting or camping, or did something that ritually ushered them into being a man. An adult male with adult male responsibilities.

How often these days is that particular rite of passage missed?

In the U.S., we live in an age that attacks traditional male practices that initiate boys into men.

What are the consequences?

Boys in men’s bodies. Boys who do not know how to appropriately channel male energy. Boys who are expected to behave in the civil ways that come much more naturally to the female consciousness.

In short, males become confused about their roles in society.

If you question these statements, ask any woman not immersed in academic studies.

Jordan Peterson, in a landmark interview now on YouTube, explains right at the beginning why men have to grow up.

Interview with Jordan Peterson on Channel 4.

This is a classic.

Here are a couple of bad jokes that might still make you laugh.

A young man and his date were parked on a back road some distance from town. They were about to have sex when the girl stopped. “I really should have mentioned this earlier, but I’m actually a hooker and I charge $20 for sex.”

The man reluctantly paid her, and they did their thing. After a cigarette, the man just sat in the driver’s seat looking out the window.

“Why aren’t we going anywhere?” asked the girl.

“Well, I should have mentioned this before, but I’m actually a taxi driver, and the fare back to town is $25…”

One more:

After waiting more than an hour and a half for her date, the young lady decided she had been stood up. She changed from her dinner dress into pajamas and slippers, fixed some popcorn and resigned herself to an evening of TV.

No sooner had she flopped down in front of the TV than her doorbell rang. There stood her date.

He took one look at her and gasped, “I’m two hours late… and you’re still not ready?”

Yep. That last one is a stereotype, playing off something that is not always true.

(And I hate to break it to you, but stereotypes can be funny. Humor is in danger these days because many people want to reject all humor that implies stereotypes.)

But it’s important to remember that stereotypes arise because there are some truths in them. The problem is when we apply a group stereotype to a particular individual.

Which leads to our next post.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

How to Quit Smoking and Other Imagination Exercises

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

“Any thought that is passed on to the subconscious
often enough and convincingly enough
is finally accepted.”
Robert Collier

Remember when you first learned to ride a bicycle? You may have ridden on the street in front of your house and saw a pothole or a rock in the road. Let’s say it was a rock.

You wanted to avoid the rock, but you focused so hard on avoiding the rock, what happened?

You hit the rock! Why?

Because that’s where your attention was. In order to avoid the rock, you learned that you focused, not on the rock, but going around the rock.

This illustrates a fundamental principle of consciousness:

Don’t focus on what you want to avoid.
Focus on where you want to go.

I used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day.

I wanted to quit. It’s hard to quit, even though research shows that the physical addiction is gone after several days of non-smoking.

Why do so many smokers go back to smoking after quitting?

Because even though they have given up smoking, they still hold the image of themselves as smokers.

I quit smoking by
becoming a non-smoker first.

I spent months visualizing myself without cigarettes, even though I still smoked. I pictured my life without smoke, without dirty ashtrays, without a cigarette between my fingers, even while I was smoking.

And I adopted the attitudes of a non-smoker. Smoking is awful, it pollutes the air, kissing smokers is like licking an ashtray. The usual stuff.

The problem with most people who quit and still crave cigarettes is that they are still smokers who aren’t smoking. The outer picture may have changed, but they still hold onto the subconscious picture of themselves as smokers. And so they still crave cigarettes.

Notice the key point here: I didn’t focus on giving up smoking. Instead, I became a non-smoker.

It doesn’t matter what you want in life;
what matters is what you picture.

Remember: You have a Conscious mind that perceives something and connects it to past experience. Then it evaluates and decides what to do. But it’s too much for you to constantly evaluate and decide about every perception.

Thus, the Subconscious Repository steps in and stores anything you repeat to make it a habit, a part of your reality. That’s all it does. Store it and make it automatic so you don’t have to think about it anymore.

Then there is the spin doctor, the Adaptive Unconscious, the part of your mind that makes sure you act like you, that reality stays the way you expect it to be. It works with pictures. Pictures you have of yourself and reality.

At first when I quit smoking, the Adaptive Unconscious tried to resolve the conflicting inner and outer pictures by creating the craving for a cigarette. It worked to get me back to acting like the stored subconscious picture I had stored of a smoker.

When I finally quit, I didn’t crave cigarettes because non-smokers don’t crave cigarettes. I had changed the subconscious picture to that of a non-smoker And I was already a non-smoker.

I have never craved a cigarette since.

I worked daily to create a new inner picture, one that ended up being so strong that the outer Reality had to change.

What kind of person are you?

What ways do you picture yourself that hold you back from what you want to be?

There is rarely an easy way to change, and not everything will submit to your efforts.

I know this sounds simplistic. But you have nothing to lose by becoming aware of the processes involved. And trying a few experiments. You might be surprised at how you begin creating your life.

If you have the discipline
and are willing to do the daily work.

Now the fact is, quitting smoking took longer than it needed to, because back then (in my twenties) I didn’t know all the techniques I know now.

So let me describe for you the Self-Talk triangle and the nature of Imagination Exercises.

Self-Talk and Self-Image

“The Possible’s slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination”
Emily Dickinson

The subconscious repository functions somewhat like a computer. It accepts programming, lines of code, in the form of Self-Talk.

Self-Talk is what we say to ourselves about ourselves in our own mind. It’s our Inner Dialogue.

Your Self-Talk programs your Subconscious
like a programmer programs a computer.

Your Self-Talk creates your Self-Image, the deep picture that is stored in your subconscious and filters your reality about yourself. Therefore, your Self-Image strongly influences How You Act in the World. And How You Act in the World reinforces your Self-Talk.

This is the Self-Talk Triangle that drives your sense of self and reality.

— Self-Talk creates Self-Image.

— Self-Image strongly influences How I Act in the World.

— How I Act in the World reinforces Self-Talk.

This Self-Talk Triangle operates mostly without people being aware of it. But when you are able to acquire enough detachment and begin observing the Self-Talk Triangle within yourself, especially your automatic Self-Talk, you can begin breaking the Self-Talk Triangle.

You become the driver of your Self-Talk,
 rather than your Self-Talk driving you.

But this can happen only if you recognize several important things:

  1. You are not a victim of anyone or anything.
  2. You can begin recreating yourself and your reality.
  3. You can continually enlarge your perception of Truth by overcoming your externally implanted and self-created blind spots.
  4. There are plenty of people and institutions around you that do not want you to recognize any of this.

In a very real way, we are talking about your imagination, your primary creative picture-making and feeling-making faculty, your ability to create and feel a Vision about you and the world.

Look at your life and relationships.

Who and what is it around you that wants you to believe you are a victim?

That you should feel guilt or fear?

That you cannot help who or what you are?

That making your own way in the world is useless and pointless?

That you are helpless?

Who wants you to believe that you were born with a negative stamp on you?

Religious guilt or racial deprivation?

Some other thing that means you started out with a deficit that you cannot help? That you cannot overcome?

Who wants you to believe that you were born with limitations or grievances when compared to other babies born the same day?

Who wants you to believe that you are a victim?

Imagination Exercises

“Imagination is everything.
It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
Albert Einstein

Despite its positive tone, this post doesn’t have any final answers for you.

Answers often don’t come from others. In many ways, we can’t teach others. Sometimes others may catch something from us, but they often teach themselves.

Perhaps you might catch one or two pieces of truth in this post. And that’s really the point, isn’t it?

I know that my wife, and others, are always suggesting various traditional and non-traditional remedies for what ails me. I’m sure most of it works some of the time for some people.

But it has to be the right remedy at the right time for the right person.

The same with advice.

There are no catch-alls—no sugared affirmations—that are guaranteed to work. But there are some things that perhaps you will discover for yourself. Here’s what I know, for me.

— I have a mind, but I am not my mind.

— My mind is a good slave, but a poor master.

— There are hamster wheels in my mind that can run me ragged, round and round with thoughts that can drag me down.

— My mind’s hamster wheels can drive me into melancholy, anger, and despair.

— The hamster is my own thinking and feeling, my own inner dialogue. What I think, picture, and say about myself—how I feel, how I should feel, how I believe I am, how much of a loser I am—creates that reality for me.

— What I think and talk about, in relation to others and the world, often creates that reality for me as well.

— My mind holds pictures about me and the world that eventually manifest the longer I hold those pictures in my mind.

— When I hold negative pictures about myself, I become those pictures.

— When I hold negative pictures about the world, the world reflects back those pictures.

— My mind operates automatically when I don’t direct it; it will run off with those negative pictures, as if the default setting in the mind is Negative.

I become what I dwell on.
I move toward what I picture.

Remember, your thoughts are like lines of code in the computer program of your life.

The 15 Times Imagination Exercise

The way to break the Self-Talk Triangle is to reprogram your mind’s autopilot. Take hold of your inner dialogue and work hard every day, every hour, every minute, to release the negative pictures and negative talk.

But not by resisting them.

The mind seems to work by the Law of Reversed Effort. The more you try to resist negative thoughts, the more you give them life. (Like focusing on the rock when riding a bicycle.)

The trick is not focusing on getting rid of those thoughts and pictures. The trick is replacing them with positive pictures. Focus on the positive.

Easily said.

One technique is the 15 Times Exercise. You take a positive statement and write it 15 times each day.

Many people write positive statements every day. But that in itself is not enough to change the mind. What seems to work more often for some people is the Change Formula, a kind of imagination exercise:


Imagining Vividly with Feeling results in Change (to the subconscious repository)

You write it. You mentally say it. You vividly picture it, investing it with as much emotional feeling as possible. That combination gradually begins to change the pictures in the mind.

Words = Limited effectiveness

Words and Pictures = good effectiveness

Words, Pictures, and Feelings = great effectiveness

Remember, the mind is a creature of habit. Left to itself, it will run negative programming automatically (unless you were raised in a profoundly positive family and with friends who actively reinforced a positive outlook on life).

The mind’s habits will continue, you will experience those hamster wheels, as long as you don’t do something about it.

You can see why other people might be interested in making sure you never get clued in to this fact:

You can direct your own mind,
your own imagination,
your own reality.

Many people, including scientists and politicians, may tell you that you can’t take charge.

Don’t buy into that. You can take charge by using imaginative exercises that vividly affirm the change with feeling.

It’s difficult to break mind habits, to break the melancholy and despair, but it can be done.

One way is to moderate your intake of toxic thoughts, toxic environments, toxic people—thoughts, environments, and people who tear you down. Especially family members like my friend Ted’s brother in Chapter 8.

People who say, “You don’t have the ability to live that dream.”

People who say, “You are cold, heartless, weak, cowardly, stupid, and bad.”

People who say, “The tests show you should try something else.”

You’re better than you think you are,
 and you can create a better self
than you know.

When writing a positive, powerful statement in the 15 Times Exercise, remember to write it in the present tense. Assume it’s happening now. Assume it’s already true.

Imagine it. Exercise it daily.

Don’t write: I will write my Imagination Exercises every morning.

Write instead: I love writing my Imagination Exercises every morning.

Add some emotion to it. Feel it. Visualize it.

Imagine vividly
with feeling.

The subconscious repository loves emotion and pictures. It stores ideas more quickly when emotions and pictures attach to the ideas. It responds to Imaginative Exercises.

Now it’s Humor Time!

These are Eddie Izzard jokes. If you don’t know Eddie, try DuckDuckGo. He’s a smart, funny British guy who likes to dress up like a woman.

There must’ve been a cafeteria downstairs, in between battles, where Darth Vader could just chill and go down: “I will have the penne all’arrabbiata.“You’ll need a tray.“Do you know who I am?” “Do you know who I am?” “This is not a game of who the heck are you. For I am Vader, Darth Vader, Lord Vader. I can kill you with a single thought.” “Well, you’ll still need a tray.” “No, I will not need a tray. I do not need a tray to kill you. I can kill you without a tray, with the power of the Force, which is strong within me. Even though I could kill you with a tray if I so wished, for I would hack at your neck with the thin bit until the blood flowed across the canteen floor.” “No, the food is hot. You’ll need a tray to put the food on.” “Oh, I see, the food is hot. I’m sorry, I did not realize.

Very funny, if you know Eddie. He has an idiosyncratic sense of humor. I like him. Here’s a video of this joke.

If you’re like me, at times you feel like a caged bird. That life is not working out your way.

As a believer in karma, I know that sometimes karma has to play out and there is little or no way to influence the outcome.  (Like those years working at 7-Eleven.)

But often I can influence an outcome, by using imagination exercises. I’ve used them for decades and my life has improved every five years. I say five years, because sometimes there is a Dark Night of Soul, a rough patch to go through in order to mentally cough up the gunk that is subconsciously stored and experience it directly until it ejects, and the new picture takes hold.

There’s no longer a need for me
to be a caged bird all the time.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Taking Charge of Your Imagination

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.”
Joseph Joubert

You’re talking with a friend, face to face. You glance at your friend’s shoulder. There’s nothing there. But a look of concern crosses your face. You say, “Is that a spider on your shoulder?”

You can imagine your friend’s response. You have just implanted an image in your friend and taken control of their imagination, even if it was only seconds.

Do you understand how profound this is?

  • Has it ever occurred to you that there are people and groups whose whole purpose is to implant images in you?
  • Using much more sophisticated techniques that last much longer?
  • Implants that trigger powerful emotional responses in order to control your imagination and behavior?

Here’s how sophisticated it might be: Have you ever thought that the idea of “triggers” itself is an emotional trigger implant to control you? To keep you from examining critically certain ideas and listening to certain people who may actually have interesting and challenging information for you?

Here’s a challenging thought: A lot of your emotional reactions, especially when it comes to politics, is triggered by implants that function like emotional landmines.

And the nature of these implants can be so powerful that they get triggered when someone is trying to wake you up to the trigger implants themselves.

My book Creating Your Life gives a complete picture, but here is a small part that can help you get the idea.

The Reticular Activating System

“A truly creative person rids him or herself
of all self-imposed limitations.”
Gerald Jampolsky

Your mind has a powerful filtering system that creates blind spots.

Have you noticed how when you read a book and the story fills your imagination, the outer world begins to fade away? You don’t hear the traffic outside or someone calling for you. They have to speak more loudly just to get through to you.

Have you noticed how you can be at a party with everyone talking and you can hardly understand what anyone is saying? But when someone mentions your name, that gets through to you?

Have you noticed how when you fall asleep your senses slowly shut down, your body loses sensation, and then you are off to sleep? Then almost nothing gets through to you?

Our senses take in 11 million pieces of data in each moment, but we can only consciously process up to 40 pieces per second. The part of your brain working as a filter to manage sense perception is called the Reticular Activating System (RAS).

If the mind didn’t have the RAS, you’d go crazy. Think of all the information coming in through all your senses. The sights, the sounds, the tactile sensations.

Think of all those little hairs on your body. If you focus on any part of your body, you would become aware of the sensation there.

The RAS is a network of cells in the center of the brain associated with waking, sleeping, attention, and focus. It physically filters irrelevant sensory input.

The RAS allows you to focus. It functions like an executive assistant, a kind of censor of what’s not important. It screens out the junk.

The RAS determines what information
gets through to you.

What you Value,
or what you think is a Threat.

As we focus on something important, things that are less important, things that we Devalue, fade away. Important information gets through, whatever we consider valuable or threatening.

This explains why teenagers can be watching TV or playing a video game, and a parent can call them to dinner and not be heard. The Value of the parent’s voice goes down in proportion to the importance of the TV.

This explains why eight people at a large dinner table can have cross conversations with each other and still carry on. As you focus on something important like your own conversation, the others nearby fade because they lose Value to you.

This explains why a new mother sleeps through the alarm clock going off, the jet flying overhead, and the truck driving by, but when the baby starts crying, she wakes up right away. The other sounds are not a Threat, so they don’t get through the censor, but the threatening sound of the baby gets through.

What you Value gets through.
What you Devalue gets filtered out.

I knew a couple with a barking dog that kept half the neighborhood awake. The owners were never bothered by it. However, the barking threatened the neighbors’ peace of mind, so it got through their mental filter.

But the owners loved their dog and were comforted and felt protected by its barking. They would have no problem sleeping through the night. Their neighbors may also have slept better if they understood that any burglars in the area would be warned off by a barking dog.

Once I worked at a company that decided to move my group to a different building. I was placed next to a service elevator.

You can imagine what that means. All day long, every day, I would hear that elevator opening and closing, opening and closing.

What did I do?

Because I knew about the RAS, I immediately told myself, “That elevator doesn’t matter to me.” When people asked me, “Isn’t that elevator going to bug you all day?” I’d answer, “No, I won’t even notice it.”

And from the beginning my RAS screened it out. It never bothered me.

A colleague who used to have an office was now in an open cube. He did not know about the RAS. He was used to closing the door and having quiet.

He would hear me talking on the phone over two cubes away and he would stand up and say, “Mark, you are talking too loud.”

Every sound was a threat to him, so every sound got through.

The key is knowing that you control what gets through.

It depends on how you
psychologically evaluate the sensation.

This fact is particularly important to teachers.

How often do we accuse a child of not paying attention to the teacher? But what if the teacher is not making the history lesson, or math lesson, or science lesson interesting to the child?

The teacher and the course material
fade away.

The child can be looking right at a teacher as the teacher explains something and not get it. (We all have experienced this. We lose interest, our minds wander, filters kick in because we become interested in our own thoughts or daydreaming. And minutes go by where nothing the teacher/boss/television/politician says gets through.)

What happens when the child sees no Value in what the teacher is saying?

The child’s RAS screens out the teacher. It’s the teacher’s job to make sure the class material is perceived as valuable by the child.

So the question is, what do you Value in life? And what do you Devalue?

Because now you know that if you devalue important things, they will not get through your mind’s automatic filter.

What do you Devalue?
Could what you Devalue actually hold Value?
How will you know if you are blind to it?

Now imagine that other people know about the RAS. They know that if they can get you to Devalue something or someone, that it won’t get through.

Let’s go further. Everyone knows that they have a subconscious mind. But who takes it into account daily?

Your subconscious mind is a repository. It stores patterns, habits, and preferences. Your subconscious, especially as it relates to the RAS, constantly co-opts anything you do repeatedly and tries to make it automatic. That’s its job. It responds to what you do repeatedly.

When you first start learning to drive a car, you are conscious of every turn of the wheel and movement of your feet. You have to be because it’s not yet habitual.

Your subconscious notes the repetitive activity and stores the patterns. Soon, you’re driving down the road for minutes at a time and you forget that you are driving.

How do you stay on the road? Your subconscious takes over and keeps you doing what you have done so many times before. It makes your driving automatic to free your conscious mind to focus on other things.

And that’s it in a nutshell: The subconscious takes over whatever you do out of habit—whatever you repeatedly prefer, whatever repeated pattern you create—and makes it automatic.

So you don’t have to think consciously.

The same is true with learning how to type. Most typing teachers will tell you that there is a 20-words-per-minute limit to conscious typing. There is a barrier that you cannot consciously pass.

When you learn how to type, you have to learn to let go, allow it to become habitual (subconscious). Then you can reach 50, 60, 100 words per minute.

Piano players and other musicians know the same thing. At first, you have to practice, practice, practice. At a certain point, proficiency and speed pick up as you allow the activity to become more automatic, more a part of your subconscious.

You don’t think; you just play.

In life, we lean toward things we like and away from things we dislike. The subconscious begins to co-opt and make automatic our repeated likes and dislikes.

Our cultivated preferences become habitual. They become a part of us, and we soon believe that these preferences are instinctual, determined, and automatic, rather than learned.



So here’s the kicker—just like patterns, habits, and preferences:

What you repeatedly believe to be true
also gets stored,
whether it’s true or not.

Your subconscious is not interested in what is really true, only in what you repeatedly believe to be true.

Anything you strongly believe to be true gets stored as the “Truth,” as “Reality.” And it becomes part of your makeup, your personality, as integrated into you as your driving, your typing, and your preferences.

This storage includes both the “Truth” about “Reality” out there, and your picture of yourself in here.

Your Self-Image.


What do you imagine about yourself?

Is everything you imagine about yourself true?

Do you focus on the rocks in the path of your life, on what limits you?

On what actually might not be true about you?

Or, like when riding a bicycle, do you focus on the way around the rocks?

And we’re not talking just about what you imagine. What do others imagine about you? (Your parents, friends, teachers, everyone else.)

Is what they imagine about you true? And how often do you imagine what others imagine about you? Do you really know?

Do you think it might be time to get some of these rocks out of your head?

What you repeatedly imagine to be true about yourself gets stored as your Self-Image (your Self-Imagination).

And you are not the only one crafting it.

There is a part of your mind designed to regulate automatically and unconsciously any conflicts between “reality out there” and your stored pictures.

Another part of your mind apart from the conscious mind and the subconscious repository, acts as a kind of censor. One of its primary jobs is to make sense of the world. This censor keeps you balanced by making sure that “Reality” out there as you perceive it to be matches the “Truth” inside as you subconsciously understand it.

This censor regulates
your perception and behavior
to make sure the two pictures match.

This censor can even create blind spots to “the truth out there” in order to make sure the inner picture is not messed with.

The conscious mind perceives and connects, evaluates and responds. The subconscious repository manages conscious thought by storing patterns, habits, and preferences. It also stores what it believes to be the truth, no matter what the real truth is.

The censor, known in cognitive science as the Adaptive Unconscious (AU), performs three primary functions:

— It aligns pictures (the inner picture and the outer).

— It maintains “Truth” or “Reality” (however you define truth or reality).

— It creates motivation (to align pictures, to maintain or change “Truth” or “Reality” as you know it, to achieve goals).

1) The AU Maintains “Truth”

The AU resolves apparent differences between inner and outer pictures. It resolves differences between the pictures you have stored in your subconscious repository and the way things appear “out there” in the world. Depending on how you hold the pictures, the differences between them can be resolved either way. Either the inner picture must change to match the outer picture, or the outer picture must change to match the inner picture.

The subconscious stores “Truth” (it is initially uncritical as to the truths that form the stored reality). Reality is stored in the form of patterns, habits, and preferences that arise as picture-patterns that we hold onto. They become our anchor points in this world.

For example, suppose my parents told me (as they did when I was twelve) that “You can’t make money doing what you love; you have to be practical.”

If I uncritically accept that picture of “Who I am,” it gets stored as true or reality in my subconscious. Now immediately the AU goes to work building blind spots to anything suggesting that I actually can make money doing what I love.

I begin developing patterns, habits, and preferences that reinforce the stored picture.

Why does the AU build such blind spots? Because the AU works to resolve differences between pictures, meaning anything that contradicts my perceived reality. The AU functions automatically and naturally. Its job is to make sense of the world. And to keep my sense of myself consistent.

As long as I believe this Reality, I cannot accept anything that contradicts it. The AU has to maintain my balance by requiring me to see only my stored Reality.

You can literally be
looking at the opposite truth
and not see it.

Have you ever lost your smartphone, and after having looked everywhere you announce, “My smartphone is nowhere to be found.”

Immediately, your AU builds a blind spot against you actually seeing the smartphone (or car keys, or purse, or whatever it is you know is not anywhere you looked).


Because you would appear foolish (insane) after having made your statement. Someone else finds them (in an obvious place where you had looked several times), and you have to say something like, “OK, who moved them? They were not here when I looked.”

This phenomenon is also evident when you judge someone.

I remember working at a job where I was told that a certain fellow employee was stealing but had yet to be caught.

I began to see that employee’s shiftiness. Her actions were obviously suspicious. Though I had once thought her kind and ethical, now she acted in a way that reinforced her untrustworthiness.

Then the real culprit was caught, and suddenly she regained her kindness and innocence. The indisputable facts forced me to let go of my false inner picture of her.

2) The AU Matches Pictures

The AU helps us solve problems. In fact, once we understand the art of giving the AU our problems to solve (resolve), we can grow in remarkable ways.

Suppose some neighbor kids break a couple of planks in my fence. The picture suddenly doesn’t match the inner picture of a well-made fence.

To resolve the conflict, my AU creates the drive for me to repair my fence and make it look “the way it should look.”

But if I don’t fix the fence right away, the AU will co-opt the new image of a broken fence and begin making me comfortable with the new picture. Soon, the broken fence remains broken.

The new picture gets stored. It’s now a part of the Reality picture.

This fact explains why any time you have to make home repairs, it’s always a good idea to do them quickly. Otherwise, the AU stores the new picture causing you to lose the motivation to change it.

The AU typically won’t allow us to hold two contradictory pictures of ourselves or reality. The AU always works to resolve such cognitive dissonance because the AU makes things complete, resolves differences, solves problems.

3) The AU Creates Motivation

Suppose you set a goal to remodel your kitchen. Suddenly you have a “problem.” The picture, or vision, you have does not match the reality. You experience cognitive dissonance and your AU moves into action to resolve the problem, to create wholeness.

You must do one of two things:

Either give up your vision
or remodel your current situation.

This form of anxiety is actually creative energy and motivation. In other words, to be creative is to deliberately create conflicting pictures between the inner and the outer (setting a goal or creating a vision) so that the AU motivates you to resolve the conflict (accomplishing the goal or vision to align with the new inner picture you are holding).

Many people avoid setting visions and goals, or accepting new interpretations, because they confuse creative energy with stress. To grow intellectually and professionally means to continually revise yourself and your picture-models of reality.

You don’t get what you want in life. You get what you picture.

And other people want to implant pictures into you.


So that your creative imagination can be used to create THEIR vision.

Whew! That’s a lot. Time for a little bit of humor.

A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, “This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch.”

The barber puts a dollar bill in one hand and two quarters in the other. He calls the boy over and asks, “Which do you want, son?”

The boy takes the quarters and leaves.

“What did I tell you?” said the barber. “That kid never learns.”

Later, when the customer leaves, she sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream shop. “Hey, may I ask a question? Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar?”

The boy licked his ice cream cone and replied, “Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over.”

A mild chuckle. Here’s another.

How many mice does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Two, but it beats me how they get inside one.

The thing about imagination? It can be a powerful creator.

Your imagination is the tool
with which you architect your life.

The best place to being is with your self-image. A lot of people can pile a bunch of crap on our self-image, crap that for some reason we buy into.

Then the beating-yourself-up begins.

So here’s another step to take. Watch your thoughts for the next 24 hours. Pay attention to how many of your thoughts are negative.

Many run circles in your head like hamsters on a hamster wheel.

Things your parents said to you. Things teachers said to you. Things classmates said to you. There can be some old, old stuff running like old tape recordings in your head.

So here’s what you can do, every day.

Replace every negative thought with its positive opposite.

Every negative thought. Change it.

You don’t have to suppress thoughts. Just change them. Especially those that operate on a kind of autopilot.

The more you replace, the more likely the positive thought will eventually take hold.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine who successfully used this technique:

I have a friend named Ted who grew up with an older brother. His brother used to sing this song all the time:

Wrong Ted, wrong again, wrong all the time
Every day, every week, wrong wrong wrong!

Can you imagine how this affected him?

This song played in his head as an adult. He finally realized that this inner song affected how he thought of himself and his ability to function in the world.

So he changed the song. He changed his Self-Talk:

Right Ted, right again, right all the time
Every day, every week, right right right!

And his world changed.

Take charge of your Self-Talk. Being the process of eliminating negative thoughts from your life.

And remember: You are not your thoughts. You have thoughts, but your thoughts do not mean you are a bad person.

Choose your thoughts and watch as your new thoughts begin a powerful transformative process.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Debt Is Slavery

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

“…banking establishments are more dangerous
than standing armies…”
Thomas Jefferson,
letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

If you’ve already been suckered into building up massive debts—

Oh, are you going to hate this post.

How People with Good Intentions Enslave You to Student Loans

Here’s how people with good intentions can harm you, and never take responsibility for it.

Step 1: They persuade politicians to provide student loans for you people who want to attend college without having to work at a real job at the same time.

(Where you learn practical skills when your academic skills won’t get you a job.)

Step 2: College administrators accept students with government loans because that means more money for the colleges.

Step 3: College administrators begin jacking up tuitions, because more students with student loans provide more money to attend college.

Since the money is borrowed from the government, students have no sense of the amount of taxpayer work that had to go into generating that money. And they assume college administrators have their best interests in mind, not lining their own pockets.

Step 4: The salaries of college administrators mysteriously go up, and they create more departments and programs that don’t build practical skills for private-sector jobs in business and STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, math).

Step 5: Loan-burdened students who get non-STEM degrees (humanities, social justice, law degrees, art history, and anything with the label studies) find themselves seeking jobs that require donations or taxpayer funding, such as government jobs, non-profit organizations, teaching jobs, and academic jobs.

Step 6: Loan-burdened students don’t buy homes and often live with their parents well into their twenties or thirties. Parents can’t bring themselves to kick their kids out into the world to learn from their bad choices.

And the students don’t feel comfortable getting married and having kids. In fact, they often feel too embarrassed to have a real relationship while living at home.

Step 7: Loan-burdened students get angry with the government and societal injustice, because that’s easier than admitting that their lives suck because they made bad choices and got suckered. By the college that promised them so much.

Step 8: Loan-burdened students live a drab, wretched life. And blame life for being unfair.

(And thinking that the government was good in giving—uh, I mean loaning—them the money.)

Sadly, students are no longer taught TANSTAAFL like in the old days. I wonder why it’s no longer taught?

There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

How Banks with Greedy Intentions Enslave You

Think about it. You have some money. Money you worked hard for. Someone else has something to sell that you want to buy. Let’s say, new clothes.

You give them money and they give you the new clothes. Simple, right? It’s a win-win.

But there are people off to the side who look at the transactions you make and think, “How can I talk that young person into paying more for those clothes so that I can get some of that money—without having to work for it?

Here’s how they do it and do it in such a way that you have to give them more and more money, money they didn’t have to work for. It’s a lose-win-win, with you being the loser.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Hey, young person who doesn’t have much experience at life. Don’t have enough money to get what you want right now?

Well, why be frustrated and wait until you have the money? We have a way of helping you get what you want.

Step 2: We trust you! We are willing to give you this special thing every adult needs: CREDIT.

Yes, that’s right, you can get a credit card. Oh, joy!

(We don’t want you to think about it as a DEBT card, because, you know, credit is such a better word. It means we trust you. Debt is such a terrible word. So don’t think of it as going into debt.)

Side Note: Why are con artists called con artists? The “con” doesn’t stand for “convict.” It stands for “confidence.”

No, it doesn’t mean the con artist gets you to have confidence in the con artist. It’s exactly the opposite.

The confidence artist shows
how they have confidence in you.
They show their trust in you.

They make you feel empowered by their trust. Then they pick your pocket, all while you’re thinking it’s all your fault.

By the way, have you noticed how many institutions that want to enslave you to debt are called Trusts? First National Bank and Trust. American Trust & Savings Bank. Trust Federal Credit Union.

It used to be cathedrals that were the biggest buildings in a city. Now it’s financial institutions.

Side-Side-Note: Why are insurance companies so rich? Because most of what you fear never happens.

Step 3: You buy things on credit.

Step 4: You get your first bill.

You can afford the minimum payment, so no problem. The interest charge is small, even though the rate may be over 20%. You begin charging even more, getting close to reaching the limit.

Side-Side-Side Note: In previous centuries, the maximum interest rate for money lending was about 3%. And even then, money lenders charging such a high rate were beaten up and hanged.

So why over 20%? Well, someone has to pay for all those charges made on stolen credit cards or uncollected debts due to non-payment and bankruptcy.

Step 5: You think about paying more than the minimum payment, but that money could be spent on other things. So you end up maxing out your credit card.

Step 6: If you have a history of making your minimum payments (at high interest rates), the credit card company shows its confidence in you by raising your credit limit.

Step 7: You spend more money, get into more debt, and pretty soon, you realize that your minimum payments barely cover the interest payments. You can’t charge anything anymore.

Step 8: Your life sucks.

If you ever consider buying a home, there will be a couple of shocks that will come to you. Shocks that your lender will not want you to know. Especially if you take out a 30-year loan.

  1. In your first few years, your payments will be divided up this way: Out of every $100, $99 goes to the lender in interest, and only $1 gets applied to pay down the amount you actually borrowed.

Yeah, that sucks.

  1. The lender will do everything possible not to tell you the total amount you would pay for your, say, $200,000 home. Because it will be over a million dollars. Higher priced homes? Millions of dollars.

And sadly, you never really get to own your home. Practically speaking, you’re still a renter.

Remember, owners own a thing without obligation to anyone. No one can take away what you genuinely own. Anyone who does is a thief.

Renters can be kicked out for non-payment. Because they have landlords.

Homeowners don’t have landlords, right? But wait. You forget that they have to pay property taxes, a kind of annual rent. The state and federal governments are their landlords.

If you think you own your home, try not paying your property taxes and see what your very real landlords do to you.

How Governments Con You

But governments are good! They make things fair! We can trust them!

Yeah, riiiiiight.

This is such a big story that the full version is told in my book Money and Wealth.

Here’s a little, tiny piece of that book.

A History of U.S. Money

That paper money has some advantages is admitted. But that its abuses also are inevitable, and, by breaking up the measure of value, makes a lottery of all private property, cannot be denied. Shall we ever be able to put a constitutional veto on it?
Thomas Jefferson,
letter to Dr. Josephus B. Stuart, May 10, 1817

As you read this post, please:

Don’t freak out!

Ripping away the pretty mask of government financial actions often causes people to act rashly: protesting taxes, going on anti-government campaigns, making emotional investments.

The history of U.S. money reflects practices
that governments have engaged in
for thousands of years.

All governments today have done what the U.S. government has done.

You’ve heard that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Manipulating the definitions of money is standard practice for power brokers, both in government and in financial institutions.

I propose that, by going through this history, you will be better informed to make financial decisions. If you freak out instead, you take on unnecessary risks.

Okay. Let’s begin…

Here is an example of legitimate paper money, a U.S. Gold Certificate, issued 1863-1934. Pay attention to its exact legal language:





Notice that on the left between the words “Gold” and “Certificate” is the statement: “This certificate is a legal tender in the amount thereof in payment of all debts and dues public and private.”

This note is an IOU. It is not money. It is a symbolic representation of real money, gold, on deposit in the U.S. treasury. The bearer of this note can, ON DEMAND, trade it in for gold.

The same is true of Silver Certificates, issued 1886-1963.





Notice how the language has been simplified to the left of the president:


One thing should be obvious about both of these certificates: Neither is gold or silver.

But a couple of things are not so obvious:

Notice that the gold certificate will pay ten dollars in gold. And the silver certificate will pay one dollar in silver. These certificates are not dollars.

Remember from previous chapters when we talked about measuring gold in ounces. Well gold and silver were also measured in dollars.

Think about it this way: Suppose someone came up to you and said, “Do you want to buy a gallon?”

You would be confused.


Because that question makes no sense.

You would rightly ask, “A gallon of what? A gallon of milk? A gallon of gas?”

A unit of measurement has no meaning
except when it measures something.

Notice that the gold and silver certificates measure something: ten dollars in gold coin, one dollar in silver.

In earlier days, if one person asked another, “Would you like a dollar?” the person asked would answer, “A dollar of what? Gold? Silver?”

Definitions of words are important. When you change the definition, you change the picture people hold in their minds.

Therefore, manipulating definitions
is one method of a kind of mind control.

In 1913 the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act. Soon after, the Federal Reserve began issuing Federal Reserve Notes (FRN).

And the language began a subtle transformation. The first FRNs stated that they were redeemable in gold on demand (see the text to the left of the president).

But do you notice a subtle change in the language of the note?

First, in the text to the left, there is a new phrase. The note is redeemable “in gold or lawful money at any Federal Reserve Bank.”

So the Federal Reserve can have something other than gold as lawful money?

Perhaps they mean silver, or something else. But there is another subtle shift in the language.

Can you see it?

Look at the text above and below the president.




See the shift? Even though the note elsewhere states the note is redeemable in gold or lawful money, the note now states the unit of measurement (five dollars) disconnected from gold or lawful money.

Isn’t that interesting?

The Federal Reserve issued the FRN pictured above in 1928. Six years later it issued the FRN pictured below.

See something missing?

The statement to the left of the president says, “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private and is redeemable in lawful money at the United States Treasury or at any Federal Reserve Bank.”

The note has been completely
disconnected from gold.

You may recall that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the ownership of gold illegal and withdrew it from circulation.

Now people were expected to redeem these notes for silver or whatever the government deemed as lawful money.

Not a problem, right?

Let’s see…

In 1963 the Federal Reserve Bank took the next step in transforming (redefining) U.S. money. They began withdrawing silver from the economy that year. They also issued a new FRN.

To the left of the president is the statement, “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.”

Above and below the president was this text:




Notice anything missing?

No mention of gold, silver, lawful money, or anything making this note redeemable. Before 1963 all U.S. paper money measured gold, silver, and lawful money in dollars—a dollar in gold, a dollar in silver, a dollar in lawful money.

But in 1963 that all changed.

Citizens and foreign governments were expected to forget redeeming notes. Instead the note proclaims itself as one or more dollars.

In 1963 when the first FRNs were issued about the time of President Kennedy’s assassination, a mother could go into a bank with a pile of silver dollars and deposit them. Then, remembering, she turns around and says, placing an FRN on the counter, “I forgot. It’s my daughter’s birthday, and I want to give her a silver dollar.”

And the bank teller would respond, “We’re sorry, but all silver dollars are being withdrawn and replaced with FRNs, because, you know, there is just not enough silver to go around, and it makes more economic sense to transition to a paper money, which are just as good as any dollar, you see.”

All the new coins were made, not with silver, but with nickel and copper.

By 1971, the U.S. government had printed up so much “money” that France and other countries began to distrust its value. They began trading in U.S. “dollars” for gold in the U.S. Treasury. To stop this run on gold, President Nixon ended the “Gold Standard.”

This action simply meant that FRNs were no longer redeemable. The government keeps the gold and silver, and everyone else gets paper.

That’s a fair exchange for a working economy, right?

Today’s currency is not money.
It has no intrinsic value.

And as the government via the Federal Reserve prints up more money (electronically these days), the value of that money decreases. But real gold and silver preserves value.

In 1971, gold was valued at $35 per ounce. As of this writing (summer 2013) gold is valued at $1,400 per ounce.

In the early 1960s, a gallon of gas could be purchased in some areas of the country for a silver quarter. Today that old, silver quarter can still buy you a gallon of gas in many areas of the country. Because the silver in it makes it real money.

Gold and silver tend to preserve their value. Even though more dollars are needed to buy an ounce of gold, that ounce of gold or silver still buys the same value of things it used to buy.

In sum, governments that control money and currency will find ways to spend what they don’t have. Since citizens do not generally understand the nature of coin, currency, and circulation, nor do they like ever rising taxes, governments find ways of indirectly taxing them through inflation.

Money can’t be created out of thin air, but currency can. And the result of more paper chasing goods and services is a rise in the cost of goods and services.

Side Notes

Note 1

By the way, have you ever wondered who got all the gold and silver that was withdrawn from circulation?

Note 2

Remember the “mill marks” that were engraved on the edges of coins to stop people from shaving the coins and melting down the shavings?

Gold and silver coins had those mill marks, but nickel and copper coins did not. No one shaves base metal coins and melts down the shavings for their value.

But now that dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollars are made of nickel and copper, why keep the mill marks?

Perhaps to keep up the illusion that they are money?

Okay. Enough. You now need a humor break, right?

Albert Einstein, the great genius physicist, dies and goes to heaven only to be informed that his room is not yet ready. The doorman tells him, “I hope you will not mind waiting in a dormitory. We are very sorry, but you will have to share the room with others.”

Einstein says that this is no problem at all and that there is no need to make such a great fuss. So the doorman leads him to the dorm. They enter and Albert is introduced to all of the present inhabitants. “See, Here is your first roommate. He has an IQ of 180!”

“That’s wonderful!” says Albert. “We can discuss mathematics!”

“And here is your second roommate. His IQ is 150!”

“That’s wonderful!” says Albert. “We can discuss physics!”

“And here is your third roommate. His IQ is 100!”

“That’s wonderful! We can discuss the latest plays at the theater!”

Just then another man moves out to capture Albert’s hand and shake it. “I’m your last roommate and I’m sorry, but my IQ is only 80.”

Albert smiles and says, “So, where do you think interest rates are headed?”

The only advice I have to people with massive debts? Tighten your belt and make you’re your financial decisions ones that reduce and eventually eliminate debt.

You want to be on the asset side of life for a change.

Oh, and never spend money on lottery tickets. You have a better chance of being hit by lightning.


It doesn’t matter what happens to you.
What matters is how you respond.

Only you are in charge of your responses. Take back ownership and watch what changes.

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Get Toxic, Angry People Out of Your Life

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 

“Make no friendship with an angry man;
and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”
Proverbs 22:24, King James Bible

Let’s start with one of the most toxic types of people that Proverbs points to.

Angry People

Here’s a truth that I will come back to over and over and over again throughout this series of posts. (I’ll explain in detail later.)

You don’t get what you want in life.
You get what you picture.

And the last thing you need around you, the last thing you need to put your attention on, is angry people. At home, at school, on television, or especially on social media.

Your first task—
get angry people out of your life.

Doesn’t matter if they are your “friends,” your school chums, your family, or your teachers. Angry people poison you. Their anger becomes your anger.

Their pictures become your pictures.

And you don’t want to become an angry person. Why? Because good and inspiring people don’t like to hang out with angry people.

You want to release all anger in you, and the fact is, a whole lot of your anger is implanted by angry people.

Honestly, who likes to hang out with angry people? Other angry people. (Well, perhaps Anger Management consultants and therapists. But only because they like seeing people let go of anger.)

I know what some of you are thinking. What if my parents are angry people? How do I get away from them?

Get a job and move out.
That’s what I did.

Okay, you can’t move out yet. You’re too young, or there’s something else restricting your life.

Or you have an angry teacher, but it’s a class you have to take.

Or you have other angry people in your life that you just can’t avoid. Like at work. And you aren’t ready to change jobs.

What else can you do?

Here’s a little exercise you can try. It takes a little imagination, but you will be surprised how well it works. Just try it a few times.

When you are around angry people, imagine surrounding yourself with a transparent, one-way mirror bubble, a shield of warm, relaxing, protective, golden light.

Imagine that the anger coming from your parents or teacher, or anyone else, gets reflected back to them by your shield-mirror of light.

You heard that it takes two to tango? Well—

Angry people love it when you get angry,
or resist their anger.

That creates a connection that feeds their anger. But you need two to connect.

This imagination exercise prevents them from connecting with you. Because you refuse to connect with them.

I know it sounds a bit out there. But what do you have to lose? Try it, and if it works, you have a great tool to use the rest of your life!

Also, don’t be surprised when an angry person who has their anger reflected back to them gets even more angry and stalks away.

Bad, Angry Teachers

It’s simple.

There are teachers who teach you
WHAT to think—bad.

And there are teachers who teach you
HOW to think—good.

Bad teachers don’t talk about:

— understanding both sides of an issue

— the tools of critical thinking

— logical fallacies (if you get to college, or even graduate from college, and don’t know what logical fallacies are, it’s okay to feel like you’ve been royally screwed).

And, bad teachers revel in revealing their political opinions. Ugh!

My favorite teacher in political science taught us civics, had us think through various issues of checks and balances, the role of each branch of government, and the thinking of the founders.

He dressed in a nice conservative suit and was obviously a Republican.

He brought in a guest speaker who wore casual clothes and had us thinking about various Supreme Court decisions.

He was obviously a Democrat.

Not until the final day of class did our teacher tell us he was a registered Democrat and his friend, the guest speaker, was a Republican. Among other things, the clothing played into our assumptions. What a great lesson and teacher!

Bad teachers say that one side of an issue is the only side. The other side is evil.

And they have no problem calling people who disagree with them racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted, hateful, and evil. They are angry teachers.

They humiliate students who disagree with them. And they encourage you to humiliate others as well. They try to make students into their puppets.

Is this the kind of life you want? Being someone’s puppet?

Bad, angry teachers want you to bully
people with whom they disagree.

Bad teachers won’t have you read the original sources of anything, allowing you to acquire the skill to evaluate them directly. They will have you read secondary sources, interpreters of the original.

Hey, you don’t need to read James Madison and Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers. (Besides, it’s haaarrrd to read that old, stuffy language. And you don’t need to develop those mental muscles.)

No. Instead, read this “expert,” who can tell you how bad those writers are so that you don’t have to bother reading them. You shouldn’t have to be exposed to what they say. You need only believe what we say they say.

Trust us. We know better than you.

Want some more ways to spot bad teachers?

— Bad teachers don’t require you to exercise your mind with more and more complex sentences and challenging writers.

(Why read all those complex sentences, paragraphs, and ideas that require you to grow mental muscles? It’s like lifting weights that builds muscles. But why work so hard? Just listen to our slogans. If it fits on a hand-held sign, it’s more than enough.)

— Bad teachers think reading is overrated, especially people like the ancient Greeks and Romans, or Shakespeare, or, well, you name it.

(Instead, read this simplified rewrite of Shakespeare, so you won’t have to learn anything new. Keep your life and your mind simple. Besides, Shakespeare represents all that’s bad in hierarchical societies.)

— Bad teachers don’t have you study both sides of an argument.

(Trust us to tell you what is right. Don’t develop the ability to decide for yourself. Depend on us. Or we will call you names.)

— Bad teachers get all emotional and hype up your emotions.

(Don’t think. Thinking is bad. Feeling is the new thinking. What you feel is more important than what you think. Never mind that the main difference between a child and an adult is that children are always expressing their feelings while adults learn to restrain their emotions and respond to thinking and learning from experience.)

— Bad teachers make you feel like a victim of society.

(Hey, the world is full of racism, sexism, and bigots that are institutionalized. It’s not your fault. You’re just the victim of it. There’s nothing you can do for yourself. You need to immerse yourself in a group of shouting, emotional, feeling people who are all about bringing social justice to the world. Never mind that you don’t have any knowledge of history, that your brain is still biologically growing into full capability into your later twenties.)

— Bad teachers want to keep you like a child, who is dependent, rather than help build you into an adult, who is independent.

(Don’t worry. Even though non-thinking, emotional children are easier to manipulate than independent, thinking adults, we know the truth. Trust us. No need for you to independently verify what we say. Because if you do, and if you disagree, you’re immoral and evil.)


It doesn’t matter what happens to you.
What matters is how you respond.

So what do I mean by a good teacher who teaches you how to think rather than what to think? Let me tell you a story about one of my best university professors.

His name was David Bell. He taught English. I had started out as a computer programmer, but once I had published articles in computer magazines, and even got an article on a friend’s truck in Fourwheeler magazine, I thought I should try out a career as a writer.

So I transferred to a four-year university and aimed to get a degree in English. Professor Bell taught me that, even though I was published, and even though I eventually earned a B.A. in English, I still didn’t know how to read or write effectively.

I learned this in one of his four, great, graduate seminars as I worked toward a Master’s degree (yeah, I was still working at that damn 7-Eleven store):

Austen and Brontë

Richardson and Fielding

Classical Rhetoric

The Age of Johnson

It was in the Jane Austen and three Brontë sisters’ seminar that I learned I didn’t know how to read.

Jane Austen wrote several novels in the early 19th century England. You may have heard about them: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion among others.

Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre, Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights, and Anne Brontë wrote—well, nothing you might ever have heard of.

Professor Bell set up his seminars in a way I’d never experienced. He told us to avoid reading secondary sources. Not just Cliff Notes, but any commentary at all on the authors or their books. He wanted us to grapple with the texts directly without any recourse to anyone else’s opinion.

Each session had a list of discussion questions. Professor Bell did not lecture. He listened to the students in the seminar discuss the questions. He did not participate in the discussions, unless we got off on an obviously wrong tangent.

He just listened.

Anyway, we read Pride and Prejudice. One of the discussion questions was Does Mr. Darcy’s character change over the course of the novel?

(Elizabeth Bennet is the smart heroine who turns out not to be as smart as she thought, and Mr. Darcy was the wealthy unmarried man whom, at first, she despised and then later came to love.)

I remember making some comment that caused the other students to immediately blast me. One said, “Show me in the text where what you said is true!”

And I couldn’t. Because I didn’t know what I was talking about. Because I had not read the book closely enough to actually know what Jane Austen was writing. In fact, it became clear that Austen was such a clear, precise writer, that anyone like me, who read her loosely or skimmingly, risked not understanding her at all.

I was an ineffective reader.
With a degree in English and published writings.

But here’s the crux of this story. One graduate student, a woman whose family was from India, provided a brilliant, well-reasoned argument that Darcy’s character had changed. That the good-natured man in the latter half of the novel was not the same as the man near the beginning of the novel who said, while looking at nice gentry folks dancing a minuet and refusing to dance, “Any savage can dance.”

Professor Bell started to ask her questions, a rare event, having her give more details about her argument. At the end of this little Q&A session, he had a peculiar look, and said to the graduate students, “My Ph.D. dissertation was on this question, and I had argued that Darcy’s character did not change. I have just learned that I was wrong.”

Thunder and lightning.

At that moment, I loved this man. He had set up a seminar for graduates to discuss and learn from each other (I certainly learned, even though it was humiliating), and he had done everything possible to ensure that none of us came to the discussions with preconceived notions.

And he listened without
preconceived notions as well
 so that he could continue learning.

I had decided that I could not call myself a writer until I received an A on a seminar paper.

I had to, because I learned that Professor Bell did not grade on a curve. He had objective standards that had nothing to do with my feelings or my effort. Wherever there was a weakness in my writing, he had clear, short comments that nailed me where I was vague or illogical, or lacking in proper support of claims I made.

He sharpened my mind and my writer’s sensibility for my target audience. Here’s how the grades went semester after semester.

Austen and Brontë—B

Richardson and Fielding—B+

Classical Rhetoric—A-

(Classical Rhetoric was simply the most mind-expanding course I’d ever taken, one in which I learned how to read and understand both Plato and Aristotle. The text was Aristotle’s Rhetoric, and we were not allowed to read anyone else’s interpretation. We had to grapple with Aristotle directly. What an empowering experience!)

So I had finally received an A- on a seminar paper, and there was only one seminar left, the hardest of them all: The Age of Johnson.

It was hard because of the massive load of reading. He always taught it in the fall, and encouraged prospective students to read all 1500+ pages of James Boswell’s unabridged The Life of Samuel Johnson the summer before the seminar. And that didn’t comprise even half the reading list, which included, Samuel Johnson’s Rambler and Idler Essays, selected Lives of the Poets, his Preface to the Plays of William Shakespeare, and other writings.

And on top of that, the list included philosopher David Hume’s An Enquiry into Human Understanding, novelist Laurence Stern’s Tristram Shandy, and Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France.

Look at any of these free online, and you’ll get a taste of how impossibly demanding they are.

Professor Bell gave us a list of topics to choose from. I choose the final one due late in the semester, on Burke’s Imagery in Reflections on the Revolution in France.

I worked out my paper in my head all semester. On the day it was due, I started writing at 6:00 am. He always limited papers to six pages, which meant not a word could be wasted I finished it by 3:00 pm and turned it in.

I got an A. And the right to call myself a writer.

It says a lot about a teacher who could drive a student to work that hard over years to get good at a skill. Even in something as challenging as 18th century British literature and philosophy. Ugh!

Okay, enough of this depressing crapola. It’s HUMOR TIME!

I almost had a psychic girlfriend. But she broke up with me before we met.

I’ve written several children’s books… Not on purpose.

I went to a place to eat. It said “breakfast at any time.” So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

If you laughed at those jokes, you’re doing better already. They come from Steven Wright. DuckDuckGo his name. He has hundreds of them.

(DuckDuckGo is better than Google because it doesn’t track all your personal search data to make money like Google does. By the way, in 2018 Google dropped its core motto “Don’t Be Evil” from its corporate code of conduct. Hmmm… I wonder why?)

Buy his CD/DVD “I Have a Pony.” He’ll make you laugh. And he’s cool.

To finish up this little post…

There are other kinds of toxic people you should know about. You can DuckDuckGo “Toxic People” to see lists. People who are controlling, blaming, envious, greedy, judgmental, vain, who lack honesty and integrity.

But if you can get the angry people out of your life,
and find good teachers, you will be WAY ahead of the game.

And you may be able to avoid the Devil of thoughtlessness.

More to come…

SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 

The Truth about Why Your Life Sucks


SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2

“The truth is something that burns –
it burns off deadwood, and people don’t like having
their deadwood burnt off often, because they’re 95% deadwood.”
Jordan Peterson, on The Joe Rogan Experience #958

You want the Truth?

Your imagination has been filled with ugly nonsense by people
who want to co-opt your imagination for their own purposes, 
rather than letting you create your own life.

Harsh, but true.

The bad news is, you’ve been suckered. The real bad news is, you’ve been suckered by people with good and bad intentions.

How many of these things can you honestly say apply to you?

The world has been screwed up by old people.

I feel depressed most of the time. (Not a clinical or suicidal depressed. If one of these applies to you, my posts may not help. Or maybe they can. Only you can decide. I’m a good coach, but a lousy therapist.)

I have massive student loans or credit card debt.

I don’t have a good job (or any job at all).

I hang out with angry, depressed, and cynical people.

I smoke pot or use illegal drugs at least once per week.

I’m addicted to social media.

I often feel like a victim.

I have no control over my life.

I don’t know how to be happy.

If 3 or less of these are true, you’re only mildly sick. If 4 to 7 of these are true, you are sick. If you feel that 8 or more are true, you may want professional help. But along the way, you might find something in these posts that can help. (Use the category filter “Snap Out of It.”)

The fact is, you don’t have to be upset with the world. You don’t have to change the world. You just have to find a new way to change you. And I’m simply saying you may have been suckered out of believing that you can change yourself in fundamental and dramatic ways.

You’ve been suckered by teachers, by social media, by the news, by your “friends.” You’ve been conned by politicians, banks, and advertising. They make you think that:

— you have no control over your life

— other people owe you something

— other people have made you miserable

— you should believe what they say, and not question why

— that society is somehow responsible for everything, and all you need to do is change society to be happy (never mind that nobody can agree on what society is).

There is a reason why
a committee can’t play a violin.

They want you to believe life is luck, not something that you can create for yourself.

They want your creative imagination to buy into their group vision, not for you to use your creative imagination to create your individual life.

They want you to believe that you are helpless without the group, without your peers, without “the committee” for this or that. They want you to be the host for their vampire needs.

And that’s the nub of it. The unvarnished truth.

It doesn’t matter what happens to you.
What matters is how you respond.

That’s right. Contrary to popular belief, you are 100% responsible for all you think, feel, and do.

Not anyone else. You. Unfortunately, few people embrace this fully.

Okay, I’m speaking too broadly here. Not all Millennials or Gen Zers lead a sucky life. Many can think as individuals and are good creators of their life. Hell, the words “Millennial” and “Generation Z” are media-made words just like “Baby Boomers.” You can’t box people in like that. And of course, all those groups can be suckered. Millennials aren’t experiencing anything new. Not really.

The point is, I’m a dubious authority. If you believe anything I say without having experienced it, then you could be getting unintentionally suckered by me as much as the people I claim have suckered you. But if you hang in there, I promise you’ll discover things new to you. Things no one, not your parents or teachers, have brought to your attention.

But let’s assume I may have something worth saying, that it’s time for you to burn off the gunk. To incinerate a bunch of crap that you believe to be true but isn’t. Stuff that’s been implanted in you. Harsh medicine for your sickness.

The good news? You can get better, day by day, by changing your thinking.

What do I mean by “changing your thinking”? Getting control over your feelings. Stop repeating what doesn’t work. Using your imagination in ways not thought of. Learning to recognize con artists in your life. Building resilience to change in ways that may upset people you know. And never, ever, pointing your finger, blaming others for what you are experiencing.

But who am I to say? Hell, you already have doubts about me. And you should. Yeah, I’m an old fart, a crank, a curmudgeon. You think I’m talking down to you. (Am I? Could there be something else going on here?) And I’ve lived many more years than you. So what? How can I possibly know:

— What you’re going through, and what you’re feeling?

— What it’s like in this unjust world that has been screwed up by old people like me?

— What it’s like to be a minority, discriminated against, marginalized, oppressed, etc.?

I grew up with a father and a mother. But my father didn’t want a family, so it’s no wonder he was unhappy, spending all his time watching television. In middle school, we had an electrical blackout, and all my father could say is, “It’s hell around here without a television.”

Yeah, it should be no surprise that my parents divorced by the time I was eighteen.

We moved around. A lot. It seemed we could never stay in the same rented house for more than a year. My parents never owned a home. Never had enough money. Sometimes we lived on welfare; living off other taxpayers. Sometimes not. My parents could never get a break.

We lived in four different cities in Nebraska, two different cities in Kansas, and six different cities in California. All before I was seventeen years old. I went to four different sixth-grade schools. I went to three different high schools. Imagine all the fun it was having to make new friends in a new city every year or two.

My parents never went to college. I grew up without a clue about college. Of course, they never saved for my college education. How could they? They barely had enough money to feed me and my brother. (The last time I saw him, I was holding him down for the cops to take away after beating his girlfriend, and, perhaps, my mom. She would never admit it.)

As a teen, I flipped burgers at McDonald’s for $1.65 an hour, just to have my own spending money for clothes and books and records. I later got fired as a manager making $2.20 an hour.

I got caught using drugs. A couple years later, I spent a few weeks in the county jail, including my 21st birthday.

Yep. My life sucked.

In jail, I looked at how my life was before that point. It sucked.

I looked at where I was then, with other misdemeanor jailbirds. It sucked.

I looked at my future.

I decided that
  my future wouldn’t suck!

And I knew nobody could make that happen but me. I had to think and act in new ways. Yes, we all suffer into the truth. Especially the truth about ourselves. That’s life.

My mom and new stepfather handed me a great benefit when I was finally released from jail and got a job at a 7-Eleven store. They kicked me out to live on my own and pay my own bills.

I worked 50 hours a week at that 7-Eleven, putting myself through a junior college (15 units) trying to learn something, anything, to get free of that 7-Eleven. It took eight years, three of those at a proper four-year university.

My top pay at 7-Eleven while living on my own? $6.00 an hour.

My life still sucked for years.
But I was building skills.

I learned a little about computer programming. I learned how to write. Even got published in magazines. I learned history from someone who didn’t try to tell me how to “interpret” it. I learned how to expand my language skills and read Plato, Shakespeare, Booker T. Washington, and Virginia Woolf on my own.

Then after years of sucky, hard work, I got better work. Then even better work. I taught Business English, Business Math, and Legal Writing for paralegals at a business college. I reviewed research papers by cops for the California Commission on Police Officers Standards and Training. I trained workers at Intel on problem solving.

After more years of thinking differently, and taking the risk to try new things, I achieved a six-figure salary in Silicon Valley helping engineering managers from around the world learn how to set stretch goals and develop high performance thinking and innovation skills. My company sent me all around Asia and Europe.

By the time I was in my late thirties, I’d given up looking for a real relationship. Nothing had lasted even two years.

My relationships sucked.

Now, I have a wife of over 20 years who actually likes me and laughs at my jokes. I even have a home without a mortgage. We never fight. How did I do it?

It wasn’t privilege. It wasn’t the government. It wasn’t because I expected someone else to give me something I hadn’t earned.

So, how did I do it? Yep, you’re not going to like the answer.

By taking full responsibility for my sucky life!


But before going further, how about a little humor? You need some right now, don’t you?

A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named Amal. The other goes to a family in Spain and is named Juan. Years later; Juan sends a picture of himself to his mom. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wished she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, “But they’re twins. If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”

Okay, puns are a cheap laugh. How about this?

A dyslexic man walks into a bra…

There. Did you laugh? Even at one of them? If not, you may need to act and think in new ways. When humor dies, when everyone is walking on eggshells afraid to offend someone, everything valuable dies. The more you let go of the gunk, the more you get your sense of humor back.

And that is the best measure of diminishing sickness.

Laughing more and more every day.


Alcoholics Anonymous and other rehab groups use a 12-step program to help addicts get over their addictions.

My wife believes in a 2-step program: 1) Get over it, 2) Stay over it.

Me? I support the 1-step program, the one you’re starting right now:


SNAP OUT OF IT Part 1 | Part 2